Design of new cancer center pays attention to details

Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin will open their new clinical cancer center in Wauwatosa on Saturday, June 7.

The $95 million, five-story, 350,000-square-foot structure has 173,000 square feet of space dedicated to cancer care.

The building is connected to the east clinic of Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital. The new center will be staffed by more then 100 cancer physicians and specialists and 200 additional nurses, scientists and experts.

The facility will utilize the existing radiation oncology department in the east wing and offer additional space for patient surgery, treatment, as well as additional clinical and non-clinical therapy. A parking structure with 350 spaces is built underneath the building and elevators allow for easy access to the treatment center. 

The building is designed and centered on the patients’ needs and comfort, said John Balzer, vice president of facility planning and development at Froedtert.

“All of the planning that we did was done with research and input from patients and physicians about what a patient wants and needs,” he said.

The cancer center is centered on a “hub” concept. According to Balzer, the hub approach brings the doctors and the specialists to the patient instead of the other way around.

“Everything from appointments, patient care and support are all available in one place,” he said. “Traditionally, cancer patients need to see more then one specialist and, in a typical setting, have to travel through all sorts of wings and corridors to get to those specialists. Our approach allows the patient to remain in a central location and have the physicians and the specialists come to them. It also allows for the physicians and specialists to consult on the care an individual patient should receive.”

Patient care areas are focused on the second and third levels of the facility. Level two features the cancer clinics – divided into four quadrants, each with their own reception and waiting area, and each specializing in a different type of cancer.

The clinics are named to inspire patients and honor the emotional stages of a cancer patient’s journey. The clinics are named, “Courage,” “Life,” “Faith” and “Hope,” and each has a correspondent quote of passage.

Level two also features the Jeffrey C Siegel Quality of Life Center, which offers cancer support services for patients and families, including physical therapy and social, psychological and chaplain services. Patients and families also can utilize the nutritionist, cancer genetics and financial counseling, the research library and the medicine specialists.

“It’s about 10,000 square feet, and it’s all dedicated to the non-clinical side of cancer,” said Balzer. “There is nothing magical about the space, but it’s probably going to be one of the most important spaces in the building.”

Other Features

A full-service laboratory on level two is equipped with the technology to provide on-site processing of blood work.

The facility will feature a pharmacy where patients can fill their prescriptions the same day and take them home, and the Small Stones Wellness Center allows cancer patients to get a manicure, a hair cut, purchase hats and even try on wigs and hair pieces. The 87th Street Bistro also offers a full-service deli menu for hospital guests and patient families.

“Family members and significant others often times have to find something to do for six or eight hours at a time,” said Balzer. “We wanted to give them plenty of options to do that. We have the whole building set up for wireless and the Bistro, as well as the waiting rooms have internet connections and power sources underneath the tables.”

The third floor of the clinic serves as the connection to the existing East Clinic of Froedert and is completely dedicated to clinically treating cancer, Balzer said.

“The existing department sort of grew into the new facility,” he said. “Eventually, we are going to redo the carpet and the paint in the hall so patients won’t even be able to tell they aren’t in the new building anymore.”

Three new linear accelerator vaults were added, as well as some additional radiology technology, an MRI and a CT scan unit. Other features include a mini-operating room suite for basic procedures to be shared by radiation oncology and the Breast Care Center.

The day hospital on the third level features three options of patient care settings, a social setting exposed to natural light, a private setting with natural light and a private setting away from natural light for those patients who become more sensitive to light during treatment.


The day hospital, according to Balzer, provides high-level, high-intensity care in a comfortable environment and still allows patients to go home at night.

“The entire facility is set up as an outpatient facility, but the day hospital has accommodations that can provide the equivalent of inpatient care for those patients who are a little sicker during chemo treatments,” he said. “That way, they don’t have to be admitted.”

The fourth and fifth floors, according to Balzer, were built as space for future growth at the hospital.

“Rather then leave that space unutilized and carry that cost of overhead, we have utilized these floors for additional administrative and medical college space not necessarily related to the cancer program,” he said.

Currently, the fourth and fifth floors are designed with modular removable walls to create office space that can just be taken apart when expansion is needed.

“We think, financially and environmentally, it was the right thing to do, and it has been received well by the occupants,” Balzer said. “The fifth floor also houses the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry, the only one in the world that keeps all of the tumors and procedures in the world on record. It allows other doctors in other countries to link up with this registry to find out what treatments were used and were successful in similar cases to the one they might be working on.”

The building also is designed with a corridor that runs along the outer wall of the facility for patient travel and public circulation.

“Anytime a patient must leave that outside corridor, they are escorted by a staff member,” Balzer said.

Large floor-to-ceiling windows allow natural light to fill the corridor, as well as many of the treatment rooms, offering views of the natural landscape outside the hospital. “We planned and researched for two years before building,” Balzer said. “All throughout the hospital, we really tried to get away from an institutional feeling and make it very positive and uplifting.”

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