A new state-of-the-art cancer care center opens July 12 in Nampa.
St. Luke’s Cancer Institute has completed its new facility that not only helps to accommodate the growth of the western Treasure Valley, but better unites cancer care services with the St. Luke’s Nampa Medical Center and provides cancer patients with a healing environment like no other in Canyon County.
The facility has 15 medical oncology exam rooms versus the current six, and nine radiation oncology exam rooms rather than the current three. The additional space also allows St. Luke’s to offer new or expanded programs such as psychiatry, survivorship services, spiritual care, nutritional counseling, rehabilitation and acupuncture.
It also includes St. Luke’s first integrated physical therapy gym for cancer patients and the first-ever gynecological oncology services outside of Boise.
The St. Luke’s Nampa campus offers health services in one central location that better serves a larger population and is more inclusive of communities like Caldwell, Middleton and Star. Cancer patients can conveniently connect to medical services and more specialties at the main hospital, leading to more efficient, collaborative and coordinated care.
Due to the nature of oncology, that makes a major difference. The new lab and phlebotomy draw room will utilize services of the hospital lab via pneumatic tube for processing, getting critical tests results back more quickly.
Since opening in 1991, St. Luke’s Cancer Institute in Nampa, formerly known as St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI), has operated in the same 20,000-square-foot building on Hawaii Avenue. Although the location served the community well, the oncologists say it is well past time for an upgrade. The current facility was built to care for 8,300 patient visits a year. Today, more than twice that number of patient visits occur.
“Our care providers in Nampa are some of the busiest of all five of our St. Luke’s Cancer Institute sites and we’ve simply outgrown the space,” said Dr. Timothy Sawyer, St. Luke’s Cancer Institute oncologist. “Providers are double booked and there is no additional space to hire more oncologists even though the Western Treasure Valley is growing quickly and more people are being diagnosed with cancer every year.”
St. Luke’s considered expanding the current Nampa site, but the building’s footprint didn’t allow for growth. The aging building also needed extensive repairs and updates to critical systems to maintain stability of chemotherapy drugs and ensure the integrity of the laboratory and the operation of the linear accelerator used for radiation therapy. The location is not central to Canyon County’s population growth and renovation would have cost more than a new facility that could be designed from scratch.
But Dr. Sawyer says the new building is about so much more than space.
“It gives our cancer patients the latest in cancer care. We’re providing more privacy and tranquility,” he said. “Patients right now are receiving care in chemotherapy chairs that are all crammed in one small space with no outside view. Our new chemo infusion suite has room for 20 chairs. Four of those will be private infusion rooms and all will be surrounded by a second-story view of Idaho’s incredible scenery. Those natural elements are proven to help promote healing and patient well-being.”
With updated technology in the new building, a new linear accelerator will allow oncologists to treat more types of cancers with greater precision, in shorter time. The team will also be able to expand participation in clinical research.
“We’re now able to improve critical access and keep cancer care closer to home and more accessible,” Dr. Sawyer said. “The new space and technology allows St. Luke’s to bring in more providers and take some of the pressure off the oncologists and nurses that are working extra hours to see as many patients as possible.”
Taylor Marschner is a St. Luke's public relations coordinator.