The American Cancer Society estimates there will be over 1,900,000 new cancer cases in 2023. To support patients as they undergo treatments, facilities such as the new Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Cancer Center specialize in oncology services and provide accessible, expert cancer care. Located at the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA, the newly renovated 92,000 sq.-ft. center will offer more support for residents in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Now, an undulating facade welcomes patients to a new entrance. The building compliments the existing hospital using state-of-the-art design to reinvent the entry to the campus.
On the upper levels, fritted glass lends to a rhythm on the exterior that follows the structure’s form. The interior design concept incorporates biophilic principles into the spaces, including views of nature, natural materials, imagery and patterns. The lobby’s interior features abstract designs of local mountain views that are captured by the layering of wood-like materials and lighting that hugs the lobby’s walls, creating a beautiful backdrop for the space.
The interior design continues to reference patterns, textures, and colors found in nature from hexagonal patterns in privacy glass and ceramic mosaic tiles at elevators to watercolor impressions of natural settings in family lounges—the clever use of materials result in a calming and comforting atmosphere throughout the property.
To explore how this cancer center came to be, and how it was carefully designed to accommodate patient and family needs, Facility Executive spoke with Daniel Landesberg, MBA, Associate Vice President, Clinical Operations for the Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Cancer Center.
Facility Executive: What inspired you to revamp the Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Cancer Center? When did you first identify a need to offer a broader range of Oncology services?
Daniel Landesberg: The Henry Cancer Center (HCC) has been part of Geisinger since 1992 and has provided an invaluable resource to our community. Patient volumes steadily grew at the HCC and, by 2018, we were at capacity. We serve a community of over one million people. Cancer incidence was 5-7% above the national average in these communities, largely due to the aging of our population. Upon reviewing broader demographic trends, we noted that 30% of patients in our communities were leaving the area for cancer care. Additionally, there was great interest in expanding the acuity of services provided at the HCC. Patients from Northeast PA who need treatment for acute leukemia often have to choose between hospitals outside their home communities for care. Patients undergoing bone marrow transplants may be in the hospital for over a month, in some cases. Family involvement in cancer care is vital. For patients with these advanced care needs, having their loved ones so far away creates an added layer of stress.
As we continued to look at the broader picture as to where cancer care was going, we needed to expand access, which meant adding more treatment spaces and exam rooms. Creating a purposeful accommodation for families was important for our patients, so each of our treatment bays is larger and more private than before. With the goal of adding bone marrow transplant care, we incorporated more private treatment rooms for immunocompromised patients, a neutropenic waiting area, and added an 18-bed acuity adaptable inpatient unit, specially designed for oncology patients. Finally, we added a CyberKnife in 2020, a notable addition to our Radiation Oncology services that previously was only accessible in cancer centers in the major metropolitan areas.
Finally, we took the opportunity provided by this addition to improve GWV’s main lobby and add modern amenities that were not available in the original 1981 hospital. The hospital now features a smoothie bar, a full-service retail pharmacy, and a gift shop (Hydra Health) featuring specialty products for patients enduring cancer treatment.
To sum it up, the intuitive next step for the HCC at that time was to become a truly comprehensive cancer center where we had the facility that enabled us to provide everything our patients needed under one roof. Beyond the direct provision of patient care, we needed to identify a purposeful home for clinical research, teaching facilities for medical and nursing students and residents, psychosocial resources, and many other critical elements.
FE: How long did it take to complete this renovation from conception to completion? As a cancer center, what precautions did you take to ensure patients weren’t impacted during the construction phase?
Landesberg: We performed our programming and design in partnership with FCA in 2019. From the end of 2019 to early 2020, we selected a Construction Manager (Alvin H. Butz, Inc.) and engaged them in careful planning to ensure no services were interrupted during construction. This was a unique and challenging project given that it was integrated into a busy hospital and cancer center, connected to the existing facility at four points.
We completed the first enabling steps of construction in June 2020 and we are completing our final phase of construction in August 2023. This project consisted of a new ~100K SF building and a subsequent renovation of the original Henry Cancer Center. We worked diligently as a multidisciplinary team to consider the most efficient phasing plans and to keep pedestrian and vehicular access flowing. At various points in time, we set up temporary entrances, corridors, and other considerations to isolate the construction activity and preserve access.