MUNSTER — Dr. Rowland Mbaoma stood in front of many colleagues and said, "The cancer center is finally here."
It was followed by a cheer from those in attendance.
After Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering put the first shovel in the ground in April 2015, the company, along with Mbaoma, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration and many others, have been working to finish and unveil the $50 million cancer center at Franciscan Health hospital in Munster.
Now that work on the three-story, 83,500-square-foot addition is complete, the real work begins: treating cancer.
"There's nothing like it in the area," Mbaoma said. "When a patient walks in here, they do not have to leave the building. It's all here."
The resources include radiation oncology treatment that has two linear accelerators for radiation and oncology lab services, medical oncology infusion therapy with a 24-bay infusion center for chemotherapy, a full-service breast center with mammography screenings and bone density testing, and a retail center with apparel designed for cancer patients.
The center also has four state-of-the-art endoscopy suites, a pharmacy, a 50-person waiting area and physician suites.
"We can minimize any kind of damage to surrounding tissues around the cancerous tumor," said Sister Aline Shultz, the hospital's chief operating officer. "That's only something you could previously find in Chicago."
Mbaoma also noted the cancer center is the first and only one in Northwest Indiana that has automated breast ultrasound screenings, or ABUS.
He noted that women with dense breast tissue are four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer compared to those with normal breast tissue.
"A regular mammogram can miss up to one-third of breast cancer in women with dense breasts," he said. "Using ABUS, we reduce false-negative rates."
Dr. Vidya Kora, a Michigan City internist as well as the board chairman for Franciscan Alliance's Northern Indiana division, said the center is "well-coordinated, individualized, state-of-the-art and personalized."
"We are very proud to have this facility right here in Munster," he said. "I have no doubt with the great team we have put together that we can continue to have success in treating cancer patients."