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(Enlarge) A concept drawing of the comprehensive cancer care center Upper Chesapeake Health plans to build next to its Bel Air hospital. The center would be the first facility of its kind in Harford County.

Upper Chesapeake Health plans to build a new $60 million comprehensive cancer center at its Bel Air medical campus, officials of the Harford County based health care company told Bel Air town officials Tuesday.

Lyle Sheldon, Upper Chesapeake's president and CEO, outlined his organization's plan for the new cancer center, as well as proposals for alleviating some of the parking and traffic congestion issues around its Bel Air campus, Dean Kaster, Upper Chesapeake's senior vice president for corporate strategy and business development, said.

Kaster said the proposed cancer center will be on the MacPhail Road side on an existing parking lot by a small office building. The building will have 75,000 square feet, 60,000 square feet for the cancer center and the remainder for future ancillary support space for the adjoining Upper Chesapeake Medical Center hospital.

Kaster said the new building will be two stories tall with surface parking in front of hospital and underground parking.

He said it will serve 100 to 120 patients a day for chemotherapy, radiation and other outpatient services.

"We plan to provide complete care such as medical oncology, infusion therapy, radiation and imaging, Cancer LifeNet, clinical research," Kaster said. The facility will also have a breast health center and provide cancer surgical services on outpatient basis.

Kaster said Upper Chesapeake is working through the state approvals process and has a request in front of the Maryland Health Care Commission to sanction the project. He said it will take a minimum of two months to get the final state OK.

The plan, he said, is to break ground on the center by March 2012. Construction will take about 20 to 22 months to complete, with the goal being to open in December 2013.

The proposal to build a comprehensive cancer treatment center would bring the first such facility of its kind to Harford County.
Kaster said Upper Chesapeake did long range strategic planning in the past year "that pointed to a strong need for a comprehensive cancer care center like this project."

"The major reason is that much of cancer care in Harford County is fragmented, with patients having to go to many different locations for care," he explained, saying only about 40 percent of Harford County residents get treatment in the county, with the other 60 percent traveling to Baltimore City, Baltimore County or other locations.


For updates on this story, check back at www.exploreharford.com or read Friday's print editions of The Aegis and The Record.


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