Huntsman Cancer Institute's latest expansion is evidence of hope that a cure will be found

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 26 2011 7:44 p.m. MDT

State budgets, he said, should be used to support the cause — as owners of the facility — but to date, the only money going into building the hospital has come from donations, most of them from the Huntsman family.

"We seem to have our priorities wrong in much of what we do in America," Huntsman said. "If the average American understood that 550,000 fellow Americans are dying each year because of cancer, perhaps there would be a greater call to arms. This is the most insidious disease known to man, and yet we give it very little attention and very, very little money."

But it is at the heart of everything Huntsman does.

And it shows.

Dr. Michael Deininger, chief of hematology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said that with a demanding procedure such as that of transplants, "every little thing counts."

The specifications of the new blood and marrow transplant unit, he said, puts the program on par with the best programs in the nation.

"It's not just a normal patient ward," Deininger said.

The wing has HEPA-filtered air flows and positive pressurized rooms that keep infection levels nearly flatlined.

"It's designed to be as comfortable as possible," he said.

From a doctor's perspective, Deininger said such details "make all the difference."

The $110 million expansion, located at the northeast of the existing hospital building, was designed by Architectural Nexus and built by Okland Construction. A ribbon-cutting and dedication is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, and the new wing opens to patients on Oct. 31. Officials expect it to be full within weeks.

"Since 2005, we have been operating at full capacity in inpatient beds, operating rooms and outpatient clinics," said Mary Beckerle, hospital CEO.

"The hospital expansion provides further opportunity to bring the most promising research discoveries to the patient's bedside," Beckerle said. "One of Huntsman Cancer Institute's guiding principles is that research is the key to defeat cancer, and translating that research into clinical applications is at the core of what we want to accomplish (here)."

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com Twitter: wendyleonards

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