Photo by Shane Harms
From left to right: Tom Brown, Dr. Michael Milder, Jennifer Graves and Jim Yates at the ribbon cutting ceremony November 12th.

Ballard Swedish Hospital opens new oncology building

Tuesday, Nov. 12, Swedish Medical Center held their ribbon cutting ceremony for their newly renovated and expanded medical oncology building in Ballard.

Over 100 patients, staff and citizens arrived to share their celebration and have a look at the new facility.

At 8,071 square-feet, the space is 33 percent larger than the older and smaller facility located upstairs. The facility will have 13 infusion bays, two private rooms furnished with hospital beds, and 5 oncologists on staff, including the new resident and medical oncologist, Dr. J. Samuel Tolman.

Aside from providing chemotherapy, the facility will also offer counseling and financial support under the same space. What’s more is that the radiation oncology center is just across the street, making less travel time for patients receiving different treatments. Being on the street-level, the space provides easy access for patients undergoing treatment.

“We needed to meet the demand of the growing of the Ballard community. This facility has been in the works for a long time and has finally come to fruition … patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet, “ said Dr. Michael Milder, medical oncologist and hematologist.

Milder has been an oncologist at Swedish since 1977, and now works part time at the Ballard facility. He said he has seen the facility change and finally meet all the demands patients need.

“Our mission is to give personalized care…now we have a cancer facility that out patients deserve,” said Milder.

The project cost 2.3 million to build, and although there have been plans since the 90s, it took about a year to complete after finally getting underway. Designs for the structure started in last April and the construction started in August.

Rob Jones, Construction Project Manager with Providence Health and Services, an affiliate of Swedish Medical Center, said there were three different building vintages that met at the site -- one from 1954, 1967 and a more recent addition. The ripraps of buildings were once an emergency room and needed to be gutted to the studs and then built back up.

“The biggest obstacle was bringing all these structures up to code since they were built during a different time,” said Jones.

The new facility is circular with a more organic feel rather than rigid straight walls. The infusion bays are at the perimeter toward the windows allowing natural light in and allowing patients to look out. The space also uses LED and CFF lighting for more efficient energy use.

“When people have cancer they are uncomfortable enough. This new space has a comfortable feel and all the services patients need. … More importantly, the people that work here need to be comfortable too. Things like natural light make all the difference,” said Milder.

Jennifer Graves, Chief Executive of the Ballard Campus, worked as a staff nurse in the 90's and later returned to Swedish Hospital in 2009.

“Before patients had to travel to different locations to receive all their treatments, but now they have it all at the same place here in Ballard,” said Graves.

Dr. Milder, accompanied by Graves, Jim Yates (VP of Operations, Swedish First Hill) and Tom Brown (Executive Director, Swedish Cancer Institute) cut the ribbon in honor of the facility’s opening on Monday, November 18.

“To see this come into fruition is very emotional for me. … People are right when they say Ballard is the best,” said Graves.

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