Good Samaritan Health System in Lebanon today unveiled plans for a $13 million project dubbed the Sechler Family Cancer Center.
According to the nonprofit, the project will generate many temporary construction and affiliated support positions and, when operational, provide 75 full- and part-time jobs that will add $4.4 million of payroll to the region. It says the associated economic impact of the center is projected to be in the tens of millions of dollars over time.
The 21,000-square-foot, single-story facility will provide chemotherapy, infusion therapy and the latest radiation treatment in one location. It will also house physician offices, laboratory services, a pharmacy, social worker, dietician and spiritual center.
Construction is to begin this fall and last about a year, as an extension of the existing Good Samaritan Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine at 840 Tuck St. The state has awarded the project a $3 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, and the facility will be named for the lead donor.
“Under the leadership of owner Scott Sechler and his family, the Bell & Evans company has committed $2 million as the lead donor for a new cancer center," Robert J. Longo, president and CEO of Good Samaritan Health System, said in a news release. "We have been humbled by their generosity and passion for providing the best care possible to their friends and neighbors throughout the county.”
According to Good Samaritan, a public capital campaign will begin soon "to enable those who are interested in cancer care to make a donation to benefit patients in Lebanon County." It also said it has received donations from throughout the community.
“We have the ability to bring medical care to people, rather than make those who are ill leave their communities in search of treatment,” Gov. Tom Corbett said. In addition to the economic impact, "the center will, most importantly, fill a public health need in this community.”
Dr. Abdurrahman Unal, medical director of the Lebanon Valley Cancer Center at 845 Tuck St., has criticized Good Samaritan's plans in an op-ed titled "State of the art cancer center already exists in Lebanon County."
In it, Unal called Good Samaritan an acknowledged community asset but said public funds should not be going to compete with the existing Lebanon Valley Cancer Center, a privately operated facility that has been operating for more than 25 years, treating more than 5,000 patients.
"Less than two years ago, the owners of LVCC invested more than $4 million in private money to upgrade the center," Unal wrote. "As our population ages, more people are more likely to require oncology services. We do not, however, need to double this community’s treatment capacity."
William Mulligan, vice president of strategic planning and marketing at Good Samaritan, said that by the hospital's best estimate about half of the county residents who have cancer leave to get care elsewhere.
"There’s clearly a need for cancer services here," Mulligan said. "We think we’re resolving an important health access issue."
According to Good Samaritan, approximately 500 Lebanon County adults will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year. In the first year of diagnosis, it said, cancer patients average up to 80 physician visits, treatments, lab and pharmacy stops and other associated visits.