Cleveland Clinic opens new state of the art Taussig Cancer Center

Posted at 7:32 AM, Mar 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-06 10:20:06-05

The exterior and interior features of The Cleveland Clinic's new Taussig Cancer Center are apparent at the first step inside the spacious lobby.

The new $276 million, 377,000 square-foot space is the Cleveland Clinic new specialized cancer center and its long-awaited public opening is March 6. 

When patients arrive at the center, they will be greeted with an abundance of natural light, clearly marked signs and check-ins, and an open space that speaks to the impact of the center's clinical services to its patients.

On the lower level, a skylight provides natural light to the entire floor.

A skylight provides natural light in a hallway on the lower level. Photo credit: William Rawn Associates

What the center means for patients

Dr.  Pauline Funchain, who specializes in hematology and oncology, is looking forward to caring for her patients in the new center. She explains how the Taussig Cancer Center's patient-oriented space is a two-fold. 

"The purpose of the space is to give patients a good personal experience as well as a good medical experience. The essential philosophy of how this building feels from a patient's point of view is important. There are a lot of features that you can rest your mind on," said Funchain.

No matter where the patients are in the building, they will have the presence of natural light encompassing the space. Immediately inside the lobby, patients and their families will be greeted with a laboratory on the left and a welcome desk on the right.

One immediate change that patients coming to the center will experience is the new procedure of checking in only once, regardless of how many doctors a patient has to see. The flow of the building's floor plan eases the stress that comes navigating a large space. Patients can park and walk over the skyway without ever having to go outside. 

Dr. Funchain adds, "Then there is the practical part of being a patient. You wait in a lot of lines, you get shuttled from here to there. It's never as simple as just seeing one doctor. The idea is to make everything as simple as possible because medicine will never be simple."

On the medical side of the building's dynamic, doctors from multi-disiplinaries will be in one workroom. Dr. Funchain explains how this will cut down on patient wait time because the doctors can discuss the condition and treatment of a patient without having to track down other doctors. They can share information in a shorter amount of time.

"We can have good communication with each other. We can think outside of the box if we are always around the surgeons, the oncologists, and the nurses. We can learn from each other. It's not like before when were stealing two minutes with a doctor in between patients just to follow up on a patient's treatment," Dr. Funchain said.

Since most cancer centers in the country operate according to discipline, not the type of cancer, the Taussig Cancer Center allows doctors, surgeons, and oncologists to be in one central location, on one floor.

New technologies and features

One addition to the building is a new linear accelerator for radiation oncology and a Gamma Knife, used mostly for treating brain cancer. When it comes to doing radiation, "it's all about how good the machine is and how fast the computer is," Dr. Funchain explains. It one of only twelve in the country.

"I often tell my patients, depending on what kind of disease you have, your oncologist, whether they are here or closer to home doesn't matter so much. When it comes to those diseases that are very reliant on technology, having the newest, fastest machine makes a big difference in the outcome of treating the disease." Dr. Funchain said.

Linear accelerator machine is a new addition to the Taussig Cancer Center. Photo credit: Kaylyn Hlavaty

Because cancer research and the treatment of cancer is always changing, the Taussig Center will have an infusion room specifically for clinical trials. All the patient rooms have multiple chairs to accommodate for family members. Patients have the option to have either semi-private or private fusion rooms. 

"We designed every one of these infusion rooms with the idea of letting in as much light as possible. Patients will often spend two, four, or even eight hours in this space. This is really the heart of the design of the building. The green space outside is very important to the design of the entire Cleveland Clinic campus. They have a view of something different than their environment," said Sam Lasky, one of the architects from William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. who helped design the Taussig Cancer Center. 

Keeping the patient experience in mind, the first floor is designed to give patients and their families a space to get away from all stress of cancer treatment. There is a wig boutique, spa center, and an art therapy center, all of which are complete to patients. In the far right corner, a meditation room provides a moment of silence surrounded by art and a moving ceiling installation. On the opposite side of the meditation room, there is cafeteria with seating overlooking the courtyard.

The wig boutique is free to both men and women patients. Photo credit: Kaylyn Hlavaty

Throughout the hospital, on every wall space on every floor, art has a strong presence in the patient experience. There are 12 commissioned pieces specifically designed for the new space, 180 original works of art, and over 2,000 fine arts posters spread throughout every exam room and hallway.

A lasting impact to enhance patient care

Every detail of the building was carefully thought out with current and future patients in mind. Since the clinic broke ground in September 2014, it has taken 700,000 man hours to build the center.

Going forward, Dr. Funchain says the center will greatly impact patient care and Cleveland's mark on cancer research and treatment.

"Just to have space, the support, and the resources that patients need going through cancer, it's a huge deal for every doctor and patient," said Dr. Funchain.