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        Saint Louis University Hospital Leads Industry with New Center

        Date:Jan 16,2013

         Missouri cancer patients who need bone marrow transplants now have the satisfaction of sleeping in their own beds at night as opposed to staying in a hospital during treatment.

        Construction on the new $1.8 million outpatient bone marrow transplant center at Saint Louis University (SLU) Hospital was completed in early December, and the center saw its first patient on Dec. 7. It is located within the Saint Louis University Cancer Center in the West Pavilion of the hospital’s main campus and is the first comprehensive outpatient bone marrow transplant center in the region (the fifth in the nation).

        The patients’ reactions have been very positive due to the environment, staff response time and the fact that they can be treated in a specialty area, said Dana Hampton, practice manager at the facility. Bone marrow transplants are most commonly performed to treat cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, according to the National Institutes of Health. The procedure is similar to a blood transfusion in which stem cells from bone marrow harvested from the patient or a donor are transplanted into the patient’s blood stream, replacing any diseased cells.

        The treatment can last two to 10 hours each day for about a month. Although antibiotics, blood transfusions and daily monitoring are required afterward, patients at low risk of transplant rejection have the option of going home each night if they have 24-hour care, which lowers costs for the patients and reduces the risk of hospital-acquired infections.

        Before the center was built, the only option for St. Louis patients was to stay in a hospital’s bone marrow transplant unit for several weeks. Now the 16-room facility allows them the option of going home. For those patients who live more than 30 minutes away, SLU Hospital’s Auxiliary House is also an option.

        “Patients prefer to stay in the comforts of their home and the new outpatient bone marrow transplant center provides patients the comfort of home during an extremely difficult time in their lives,” said Friedrich G. Schuening, MD, director of the division of hematology and oncology at the Saint Louis University Cancer Center in a statement. “Bone marrow transplantation has revolutionized the treatment of these blood cancer diseases and performing them on an outpatient basis does not affect survival rates.”

        Washington-based Fox Architects designed the 9,000-square-foot facility, and the general contractor on the project was McGrath & Associates Inc., headquartered in St. Louis. It was constructed using the former Bethesda General Hospital space, with a low floor-to-deck height and structural concrete beams. A VRF HVAC system was used to accommodate the lower profile ductwork.

        “The existing space had an extremely low floor-to-deck height. Some parts were only 7 feet. Everything was a challenge in that we had to coordinate with all the trades to make sure everything could fit,” said Jamie Gensits, project manager for McGrath & Associates. “It was a complete team effort. It was a space that you couldn’t just build from plans and specs, requiring a lot of field coordination, but everyone was receptive to making ideas work.”

        During construction, the hospital staff and McGrath planned together to avoid disrupting the patient care areas and administration offices above and below the new center. McGrath also adhered to contamination control measures to guarantee clean air quality for the staff and patients.

        The new center coincides with SLU’s inpatient bone marrow transplant program, which has grown since Dr. Schuening joined the team in 2011.

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