Major donors to a campaign that raised $1.2 million of the $4.4 million Olympic Medical Cancer Center expansion include, from left, Bill and Esther Littlejohn, Barbara and George Brown, and First Federal, represented here by Larry Hueth, President and Chief Executive Officer. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Major donors to a campaign that raised $1.2 million of the $4.4 million Olympic Medical Cancer Center expansion include, from left, Bill and Esther Littlejohn, Barbara and George Brown, and First Federal, represented here by Larry Hueth, President and Chief Executive Officer. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Olympic Medical Center breaks ground on cancer center expansion

SEQUIM — The ground is officially broken and much of the concrete and rebar is in place, but officials said the foundation for the major expansion of Olympic Medical Cancer Center in Sequim came directly from the community.

“We asked for community donations and they gave more than $1.2 million,” said Eric Lewis, the CEO of Olympic Medical Center (OMC). “Out of a $4.4 million project, a big chunk of that came from community members.”

Bruce Skinner, Olympic Medical Center Foundation’s executive director, said 282 local residents contributed to the capital campaign.

Celebration

OMC leaders and others celebrated the kickoff of the expansion with a ceremonial groundbreaking at 844 N. Fifth Ave. on Tuesday, but workers from the Poulsbo-based JMG Constructors LLC were hard at work in the days and weeks prior.

They added the infrastructure for what OMC officials say is a significant expansion, particularly for the Olympic Medical Cancer Center (OMCC) facility’s pharmacy and medical oncology services.

“The main focus [with the expansion] is the pharmacy,” OMCC director Dean Putt said. “There will be a lot more space to mix.”

The 3,700-square-foot expansion boasts both hazardous and non-hazardous mixing rooms and an adjoining anteroom for staff to “gown up,” Putt said.

Other key additions from the project include:

• Six new private infusion suites, with five existing private rooms being remodeled.

• A new nurse workstation, with open view of all infusion treatment rooms.

• Four additional medical oncology/hematology exam rooms.

• A teaching/consultation room.

• A supportive care area for integrative medicine.

• Remodeled clinical and scheduling offices.

“We’re building what we need for the foreseeable future,” Lewis said. “Expansion is a big step forward for our cancer services.”

Designed by Coates Design Architects, the expansion saw community members donate about $1.2 million through the Olympic Medical Center Foundation.

Bill Littlejohn — a Sequim businessman, philanthropist and major donor to the expansion — said at the groundbreaking: “I’m always amazed at how many people I run into in this community who thank me for being part of the cancer center.”

OMC officials Tuesday thanked major donors Bill and Esther Littlejohn, Barbara and George Brown and First Federal.

Putt, OMCC director since last June, said the expansion is expected to be completed by January 2020 but that OMC staff is expecting to have new sections available for use by this coming October.

For users, the cancer center will “feel larger, more open, [with services] feeding right into the new section,” he said.

OMCC sees about 70 to 80 new patients each month, with as many as 30 patients each day receiving treatment and another 30 to 40 each day in the infusion center, Putt said.

The biggest change in treating cancer in recent years, he said, is in the field of gene therapy, or “using a person’s immune system to attack the cancer.”

And though the expansion will help OMC be ready for the next decade of treating cancer, Lewis said rapid changes in cancer treatment technology already has OMC staff preparing for another expansion.

He said OMCC employs about 60 staff members.

“The building is a tool [but the staffers] are the ones that deliver the care and make a difference for our patients,” Lewis said.

For more information about the facility, see www.olympicmedical.org/default.aspx?ID=40.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

Olympic Medical Center breaks ground on cancer center expansion

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