By Justin Saglio
Marlborough – A proposed cancer treatment wing to be built at Marlborough Hospital received initial approval from both city officials and residents at a public forum held during the July 18 Marlborough City Council meeting.
The wing would expand the existing cancer treatment facility at the hospital by adding radiation therapy and providing additional rooms where chemotherapy can take place.
“We have cancer treatment [at Marlborough Hospital], but the space is not very good,” said Dr. Thomas Fitzgerald, who spoke in favor of the proposal. “We are going to integrate all the care into one facility.”
Among those who spoke at the public hearing were representatives from Marlborough Hospital and local residents who voiced their desire for the cancer wing to be built.
Arthur Bergeron, a member of the Marlborough Hospital Board of Trustees, led a presentation that outlined the design of the proposed wing and its potential impact on the Marlborough community.
The project is expected to cost $11.7 million, according to Bergeron, with the majority of the funds being provided by the UMass hospital system. A fund-raising effort will take place for the additional $1.5 million required to build the wing.
Douglas Brown, senior vice president and general counsel of UMass Memorial Health Care, and the interim president and CEO of Marlborough Hospital., cited Marlborough Hospital's reputation for quality care as a reason to enhance the cancer treatment capabilities in the hospital. In a federal ranking system, Marlborough Hospital is “number two in the state, fourth in New England and 30th best in the nation in chances to survive a heart attack,” he said.
Brown speculated that the new wing would bring more affordable care to patients by offering less waste and duplication.
“There is a cost problem in healthcare,” he said. “We want to provide great care at an affordable rate.”
Members of the community spoke in favor of the proposal and cited its proximity to residents as a major advantage for fighting the disease.
“I had chemotherapy in Marlborough but I had radiation in Worcester and I think my life was saved in Marlborough earlier this year,” said James Reading. “The hassle of finding transportation to Worcester was problematic.”
With satellite facilities in Fitchburg, Southbridge and Holyoke, the Marlborough Cancer Center currently provides care to 2,000 patients with over 50,000 total treatments per year.
Other additions to the hospital will include 14 parking spaces to accommodate higher patient numbers and a healing garden which patients may visit after treatment.
The design team that worked on the layout of the proposed wing included suggestions from a cancer patient, who provided a unique perspective, according to Bergeron.
While many officials and residents spoke in favor of the proposal, no one in attendance at the forum spoke in opposition.
Further discussion on the permit for the project was tabled to the Urban Affairs Committee, which will meet Monday, July 25, to discuss the issue, according to Stephen Levy, the committee's chair. He said he expects the City Council will vote on the permit as soon as August 1.