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Three Floors Open in Cambridge Tower A for Cancer Care

Cambridge Tower A BMT Lobby

December 20, 2021

The December 2021 opening of levels 8, 9 and 10 in Cambridge Tower A at The University of Kansas Health System main campus in Kansas City adds 100 rooms for patients, with 84 beds designated specifically for cancer care. Levels 9 and 10 are dedicated for patients who have leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. Level 8 has 32 rooms, including 16 that will be used for general medical intensive care.

“The nursing staff, laboratory staff, the physicians, are all highly specialized,” says Joseph McGuirk, DO, division director of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapeutics and medical director of blood and marrow transplant. “So it’s divided not only by level of specialization of the entire team, but also by the patients’ vulnerability to infection.”

These floors are designed and built with the care and safety of our most vulnerable patients and their families in mind. Design and planning of the new floors focused on patient desires and needs while also considering the ability of the care teams to provide the highest quality cancer care.

“This has been a vision for many people, but most importantly our patients and their families for years now,” says Dr. McGuirk. “We traveled around the nation looking at some of the best, most competitive transplant program inpatient units in the nation, and we built a stem cell and cell therapy transplant unit that is second to none in this nation.”

One of the features that makes these floors unique is the special air handling and filtration system. All 3 floors have a positive airflow ventilation system, which protects patients by keeping contaminants out. To enter the unit, everyone will go through an airlock system following set procedures to further reduce the risk of contamination. The system is designed to keep microparticles, including viruses and bacteria, away from these significantly immunocompromised patients.

In addition to the many elements included to make patients and their families more comfortable and protect them from infection, the spaces were designed to enhance the ability of the multidisciplinary teams to work together on patients’ care plans.

“Doctors and nurses, social workers, discharge planners and research personnel are not isolated in hallway offices, but we have a single team center in the middle of the unit to facilitate communication,” Dr. McGuirk says. “That command center is really a model for the rest of the nation to follow.”

The completion of these 3 floors was funded largely in part by an unprecedented $66 million donation from the Sunderland Foundation in 2018.

“The Sunderland Foundation is fortunate to be able to invest in The University of Kansas Health System and the hematologic malignancies and cellular therapeutics teams as they continue to progress in their role as a national leader in this important therapy,” says Charlie Sunderland, who served on the health system board of directors for many years. “Patients in the heart-of-America region will continue to benefit from the vision and dedication of this talented team.”

The expansion creates a holistic care experience that is particularly important in immunotherapy treatments such as blood and marrow transplant (BMT) and cellular therapy for hematologic malignancies (HMCT) that may require patients to spend significant time in the hospital. BMT treats patients with blood cancers and disorders including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and sickle cell disease. HMCT is at the center of cancer care through research and the CAR T-cell therapy program.

This new space will add a level of serenity, convenience and beauty that will make the long stays – often 30-45 days or longer – of cancer patients more comfortable. One of those features is the meditation center.

“This is an extraordinarily stressful time for patients and their families, and having a space where they can go that is quiet and peaceful and relaxing may allow them to just let go of that stress,” says Dr. McGuirk. “And the views around the city also make this a very uplifting space for patients, their families and our staff as well.”

Here are some other features and amenities the expansion includes:

  • Plenty of windows, addressing the desire of patients to be able to see outside during a long stay
  • Patient rooms that include USB ports, expanded closets and larger televisions
  • Family areas that include washers and dryers, showers, lockers and a full kitchen
  • A 3-level lobby/atrium with spectacular views of the Kansas City skyline
  • Patient education and resource center
  • A walking path that offers beautiful 180-degree views of downtown Kansas City and the sports stadiums

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