By AT News Team, April 20, 2015:   Kettering Health Network (KHN), the Adventist health ministry that serves the Dayton (Ohio) metropolitan area, announced last week that it will build a new $49 million cancer center designed to meet the needs of an aging population that is increasing demand for oncology care. The 120,000-square-foot, five-story comprehensive care facility will be built on the campus in suburban Dayton that includes Kettering Medical Center, Kettering College and the Kettering Adventist Church.

“It adds another quality health care asset to the region,” Bryan Bucklew, president of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, told the Dayton Daily News. The new cancer center will provide a wholistic approach with massage therapy, counseling for patients and their families and even a cafe with a menu designed to meet the nutrition needs and tastes of cancer patients, in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, stated Elizabeth Koelker, director of oncology services for KHN. “The focus is on survivorship from the first day of treatment throughout.”

KHN “is a faith-based health network, addressing the healing needs of the mind, body and spirit,” Koelker was quoted in the newspaper. “Eighty percent of cancer care is delivered in an outpatient and this cancer center is a direct response to the needs of our community.”

The number of cancer patients coming to Kettering hospitals for treatment has spiked dramatically in recent years, Koelker told the newspaper. There are now 13.7 million cancer survivors living in the United States. The survival rate has increased from 49 percent in 1975 to more than 68 percent today. The number of new cancer cases will outstrip the number of oncology specialists by nearly 1,500 in the next decade according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Ground-breaking for the new facility is scheduled for May 14. The first phase of the facility will open next year and include only the first three floors so that there is space for expansion and new treatments, new technology which is constantly being developed.

KHN operates seven other hospitals in the Dayton area and is building free-standing emergency rooms in Springboro and Eaton, suburbs on the southern and northern edges of the metro area. It also plans to build a 32,000-square-foot medical office building on Main Street in Springboro. Dayton has the largest Adventist presence of any metro area in North America.

Expansion in Other States

A public hospital district east of Bakersfield (California) is negotiating an affiliation with Adventist Health, the denomination’s network of health institutions on the west coast of the U.S. Tehachapi Valley Hospital ran out of funds in the middle of a building a new facility and has offered to provide the $25 million needed in exchange for a 25-year lease of all the district’s facilities, reports the Tehachapi News. It will also take over operation of community clinics in California City and Mojave. The deal must be confirmed by voter approval later this year, but the district feels confident enough of approval to have pushed ahead with the construction schedule.

In another California town, Lodi Memorial Hospital has voted to affiliate with Adventist Health and is awaiting final approval from the state’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris. There were only positive comments at a hearing conducted March 31 by Deputy Attorney General Jami Cantore. The Adventist “emphasis on preventive health care will be of great benefit to this hospital,” stated Lodi City Councilman Alan Nakanishi at the hearing, as reported by the Lodi News. “And there is a spiritual component,” enthused Annette Murdaca, a civic leader known for starting Lodi House, shelter for women and children. The Adventist health ministry will invest $100 million over the next 13 years if the affiliation is approved, starting with a $2 million donation to the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation. The investment will pay for upgrades to the hospital’s intensive care, obstetrics and surgical services as well as retain and recruit physicians for the area.

In Maryland, Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH) is making another attempt to get state approval for construction of a new 201-bed hospital about six miles northeast of the location in Takoma Park where it has been located since it was opened in 1907. The move is necessary because Takoma Park has become a neighborhood where the volume of traffic into the hospital is simply too much and because of aging facilities. It will cost $373 million, including $34 million to renovate the old facilities, according to the Montgomery Gazette. Earlier plans were blocked by a campaign organized by a nearby Catholic hospital that believes there is no need for two hospitals so close to each other. WAH shares a campus with Washington Adventist University, and historic neighborhood where the Adventist denomination moved its headquarters in the early 20th century and just six miles south of the office complex where the General Conference is located today.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held March 31 for a new Florida Hospital facility in Apopka. The 120-bed unit will cost $203 million to complete and is set to open in the spring of 2017, reported the Orlando Sentinel. It is located “at the intersection of Ocoee-Apopka and Harmon roads, a crossroads visible from State Roads 429 and 414,” the newspaper said. Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer was quoted saying that the new project is “a magnet for economic activity” in a part of the Orlando suburb that is mostly undeveloped. No decision has been made about what to do with the existing facility when the hospital moves to the larger new building.

In Illinois, the board of the joint operating company formed by Adventist Midwest Health and Alexian Brothers Health System has voted to call the merged network of hospitals in the Chicago area Amita Health. It will be the third-largest hospital network in the state, according to the Daily Herald.

Financial Issues, Positive and Negative

Some 24 Adventist hospitals joined in efforts to prevent harm to patients and saved $108 million from 2009 through 2012 as recently documented in a study in the Journal of Patient Safety. The study is based on data from 21,000 patients and measured the incidence of infections, bleeding, pressure ulcers, etc.; things to do not occur because of the patient’s ailment, but because of the care they receive.

“Some believe that hospitals have no financial incentive to reduce adverse events,” said Terry Shaw, chief operations officer for Adventist Health System (AHS), “but our … study shows that there is a financial benefit to improving patient safety. It proves that doing what is right is also what is best for business, challenging us as health care providers to be both excellent caregivers and good stewards of the resources that we have to care for patients.”

The project was lauded by the journal Government Health IT. “If all U.S. hospitals could achieve reductions in patient harms comparable to those of Adventist, the annualized cost savings would range from $6 billion to $13 billion.” AHS operates 45 hospitals in 10 states across the American south and Midwest.

On March 24, AHS agree to pay the U.S. government $5.4 million to settle a false claims case for providing radiation oncology services without proper supervision to Medicare and Tricare patients. Medicare is the government program that pays for health care for senior citizens and Tricare is the health insurance program for military personnel and their families.

Overall, AHS is prospering financially and it has shared some of it surplus with at least two higher education institutions affiliated with the denomination. Both Union College, the Adventist college located in Lincoln (Nebraska) and Southwestern Adventist University in Keene (Texas) were recently given $2 million gifts by AHS.