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SJCH To Build Full-Service Cancer Center

Cancer The big surprise announcement at San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH) was revealed in front of hundreds of local dignitaries, community members and hospital staff at a special ground-breaking event Tuesday morning in downtown Bakersfield.

With recent purchases and subsequent demolition work of property directly across the street from SJCH – on the east side of Chester Avenue, near 26th and 27th streets – many have wondered just what’s next on the healthcare horizon for the hospital.

Well, that question – and more – now has an answer:

It’s The Cancer Center at SJCH!

The four-story, 60,000-square-foot facility will house radiation oncology, medical oncology and an outpatient surgery center – all under one roof. The estimated cost to build and equip The Cancer Center is $36.2 million. Officials expect it to be up and running in 12-15 months.

In grand fashion, the plans for what will be Kern County’s first hospital-based, comprehensive cancer care facility were unveiled – literally – to show architectural renderings of various facades depicting The Cancer Center at SJCH. Once uncovered, the largest rendering, 60-feet wide, served as a backdrop to the various speeches.

SJCH President & CEO Bob Beehler did the honors with a 3-2-1 countdown, culminating with the actual unveiling of the various renderings.

“I present to you, The Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital,” said Beehler over a loud round of applause. “Nothing cries out for the unique ministry of Sacred Work like cancer patients and currently, 1 in 5 cancer patients leave town to seek care elsewhere.”

Beehler emphasized how The Cancer Center will be adding to the local landscape of cancer care, offering patients the ability to receive all services right here in Bakersfield.

“We think we need the home field advantage with family support nearby,” he said.

Wendy Wayne, a well-known community leader who also spoke at Tuesday’s event, both agreed and identified with cancer patients who seek treatment outside our city limits.

In fact, over her own three-year battle with Stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Wayne traveled a total of 12,500 miles to and from Cedar Sinai in Southern California for treatment and follow-up.

To put it in perspective, that’s a distance equal to halfway around the world or four times back and forth across the U.S., Wayne told the audience.

“I am the 1 in 5 statistic,” she said. “I traveled out of town for treatment … I am here today cancer-free and I applaud San Joaquin Community Hospital for bringing a world-class cancer facility to Bakersfield.
“Now, if I need to accompany a friend or family member for cancer treatment, I’ll just have to go across town, not out of town.”

It was also announced that SJCH’s building project is LEED-certified, meaning The Cancer Center will be built with recyclable materials and will meet all energy-efficient standards. Even the materials from the continued demolition work are being recycled and pre-cautions are in place to minimize the level of particulate matter during the tear-down.

Since building a new patient tower in 2007, SJCH has become the first hospital between Los Angeles and San Francisco to have both a Nationally Accredited Chest Pain Center and Nationally Certified Stroke Center under one roof. Now, The Cancer Center signals the next phase in the hospital’s expansion and will create a true medical corridor spanning Chester Avenue.