FirstHealth of the Carolinas broke ground Thursday morning on its new $68 million comprehensive cancer center. The all-encompassing facility represents a major step forward for cancer treatment and patient care, from diagnosis to treatment, and most importantly, survivorship.
Construction of the four-story building is expected to continue through late 2022. The new structure and its adjoining parking deck on Page Road are located directly across the street from Moore Regional’s main hospital campus in Pinehurst.
Art Medeiros, chairman of Foundation of FirstHealth Board, said building the multidisciplinary cancer center was both a practical and pragmatic decision. FirstHealth has a long-standing history of providing exceptional cancer services, but has grown and expanded beyond the capacity of its current facilities.
“What we’ve got here today is a groundbreaking not just of a building. It is our community’s commitment to a line in the sand that we will fight cancer,” Medeiros said, in an inspiring message to the large crowd that included FirstHealth officials, local elected representatives, oncology staff and medical providers. “I believe we are building a haven of hope. We are building a haven of healing. We are building a haven of help.”
FirstHealth CEO Mickey Foster noted it was a “very special day,” and thanked his predecessor, former CEO Dave Kilarski, for his initial vision of the cancer center. Foster also expressed thanks to the Foundation for FirstHealth Board for their philanthropic efforts, and the FirstHealth staff for their dedication, especially throughout the challenges of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This will be a healthcare destination for decades to come,” Foster said.
Natalie Hawkins, executive director of Partners in Progress agreed. “I think this new cancer center that FirstHealth is building is just an incredible investment in our community. I think Mickey Foster and his leadership team have done a phenomenal job bringing first-class quality care for cancer patients here to Moore County that will benefit the entire region.”
An independent healthcare system, FirstHealth of the Carolinas serves 15-counties in central North Carolina. While the region’s population has grown, so too has the cancer rate.
The new facility brings together all FirstHealth outpatient cancer treatments and support services to a single location. The new building will also house the organization’s clinical trials and research program. Initiated first in the early 1990s, most trials have focused primarily on breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer.
Medeiros noted the fourth floor has been set aside exclusively for patient support services to serve both patients and their caregivers, whom he described as true heroes alongside doctors and nurses. In addition, the cancer center’s healing garden will be a focal centerpiece.
Laura Kuzma, FirstHealth’s director for oncology support services and patient navigation, was singled out during the groundbreaking ceremony for her leadership that has improved staff morale, and also overseen efforts to reduce waiting periods for a patient to be scheduled to see a provider which has shortened the length of time between diagnosis and treatment.
Robert Pohlmeyer, M.D., an oncologist/hematologist with Pinehurst Medical Clinic, said the multidisciplinary approach coupled with the patient navigation piece allows patients to have a seamless care journey in a state-of-the-art medical facility.
“Today, the dream finally became a reality. We are going to have a FirstHealth cancer center under one roof...to provide the best cancer care for patients in Moore County and our other areas.”
By: Laura Douglass - The Pilot Newspaper