Officials of NorthShore University HealthSystems and others cut the ribbon for Evanston Hospital's new cancer center.

In a rare display of childhood giddiness, doctors, administrators and caregivers celebrated the March 2 preview opening of Evanston Hospital’s new Kellogg Cancer Center, a facility designated solely for cancer treatment. 

 “We are proud of how it has continued to grow,” said philanthropist William K. Kellogg III. “This is a gem in our community.”  

The new four-story building incorporates the original center and houses all oncology services in the hospital. It is more than 22,000 square feet – approximately double the space of the previous center – and provides space for multi-disciplinary care. This means access for patients to medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiologists, pharmacists, financial aid and support staff in the same building.

“People are anxious about oncology,” said Gail Ronkoske, a registered nurse and navigator at KCC.

Ms. Ronkoske is a contact point whom patients can call to find help with locating a surgeon, getting an x-ray or getting financial and emotional support. With all the services in one building, the process will be easier and more efficient, she said.

Admnistrators said they have seen a growing trend for oncology-related services. Christine Van De Wege, senior director of KCC, said demographics show that an aging community will mean more cancer patients.

According to researchers at NorthShore University Health System, which owns Evanston Hospital as well as hospitals in Skokie, Glenview and Highland Park, cancer will affect one-half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States. 

“When we started building, we asked what was important,” said Ms. Van De Wege. “We are going to have 77 actively accruing clinical trials, providing our patients access to the most cutting-edge oncology treatments available.”

Although there are no confirmed dates, Ms. Van De Wege says NorthShore plans to expand their cancer centers at some of its other locations. 

Although the National Cancer Institute reported in 2009 that mortality rates across the board for cancer decreased about 1.6 percent, cancer treatments are still very time-consuming and exhausting.

George Carro, senior director of oncology pharmacy at Kellogg, said he is excited about the new center because it allows a greater opportunity for pharmaceutical research and education.

“We are one of the first places in the country to have collaborative services,” he said. “This space is dedicated to take-home drugs and oral chemotherapy. Patients often struggle to have access to those drugs and get them at a reasonable time. There are a lot of barriers.” 

Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center that was two years in construction was Mark Schoenfield, an executive in a clean-energy company and a member of the patient advisory committee. Mr. Schoenfield said he struggled with Merkel cell cancer six years ago. This rare type of cancer is aggressive and develops on or underneath the skin. Thanks to what he describes as world-class treatment, he is a cancer survivor.  

“If you come to a place like Kellogg, it is something you can beat and live a normal life,” he said.