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Hospital plans Needham center for cancer care

By Robert Weisman
Globe Staff / October 6, 2011

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center yesterday unveiled plans to build a $20 million, three-story building on its Needham campus where it will consolidate and expand cancer care that is currently provided at two suburban locations.

One goal, the hospital said, is to give patients from the western suburbs the option of receiving care in a community setting, rather than having to travel to the main campus in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area.

Beth Israel competes with other suburban hospitals that provide cancer care, including Newton-Wellesley Hospital, which is owned by Partners HealthCare System Inc.

Beth Israel is scheduled to break ground next spring on the 30,000-square-foot building, which will include storage space and recovery rooms for an adjoining operating room, and complete the project in the spring of 2014. It will be designed by JACA Architects of Quincy and funded through a mix of operating budget money and contributions.

Located on the site of the former Glover Hospital, the Needham campus became a wholly owned Beth Israel affiliate in 2002. Two years ago, it completed a major expansion, adding an emergency room and an in-patient unit. It employs about 375 people.

The new building “will really be a significant step forward for Needham,’’ said John Fogarty, a former Rhode Island hospital executive who became interim president of Beth Israel Deaconess Needham in February and took over as president in August. “This will really round out our campus. It’s the last piece of the puzzle for Needham.’’

Besides housing cancer services already offered in Needham, the new building will offer radiation oncology services previously provided in space leased from Children’s Hospital Boston on the site of the former Waltham Hospital. Children’s, which took over that hospital, plans to use the vacated Beth Israel space to expand its pediatric services.

“The western suburbs - Needham, Waltham, and surrounding areas - are a significant point of origin for our patients and the medical center patients in Boston,’’ Fogarty said.

Beth Israel increased its reach in the cancer field last year by striking a partnership with Commonwealth Hematology-Oncology, a community-based private cancer practice.

Some technology used for more complex and specialized cancer care, such as a noninvasive radiation therapy system known as CyberKnife, will still be available only at Beth Israel’s main campus in Boston, which has 8,940 full- and part-time employees.

Beth Israel and Children’s are teaching affiliates of Harvard Medical School.

Robert Weisman can be reached at weisman@globe.com.