Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center to elevate cancer care in region

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public relations | May 18, 2017

Image with caption: A formal dedication ceremony for The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center will be held Tuesday.

A formal dedication ceremony for The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center will be held Tuesday.

The new Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center dramatically changes the skyline of both UNMC and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine.

More importantly, it will change the lives of individuals with cancer by providing the best in science and clinical practice.

Open house May 27

All Nebraskans are invited to a public open house on May 27 from 9 a.m. to noon to see the facility with:

  • Six specialty operating rooms,
  • State-of-the-art intensive care unit,
  • Resource and wellness center,
  • 24/7 treatment center with 32 private rooms,
  • In-site clinical lab service, and
  • Patient amenities including the use of high-technology tablets so inpatients can see who their caregivers are, ask questions, see their labs and what tests are coming -- all to help alleviate the anxiety typically associated with a hospital stay.

"The patient experience is essential to the healing process," said Dr. DeBehnke, noting that a Patient Advisory Council provided input on aspects of the project, including furnishings.

The Buffett Cancer Center will open to patients in early June.

On Tuesday, dignitaries will formally dedicate the $323 million facility, the largest project ever on the medical center's Omaha campus. The facility was named in recognition of a gift from Pamela Buffett, through her foundation, the Rebecca Susan Buffett Foundation. Pamela's husband, Fred "Fritz" Buffett, died in 1997 after fighting kidney cancer.

"The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is a beacon of hope for all who have been touched by cancer or had loved ones impacted by the disease," said UNMC Chancellor and Nebraska Medicine Board Chair Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. "This facility symbolizes our unwavering commitment to providing unmatched cancer research and care to all Nebraskans and the world."

"The Buffett Cancer Center brings together a powerhouse team of more than 200 oncologists and basic scientists to find better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent cancer," said Nebraska Medicine CEO Dan DeBehnke, M.D., M.B.A. "This is a landmark event in our medical center's history."

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Nebraska, the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center offers treatment options and clinical trials not found elsewhere. The cancer center includes:

  • The Suzanne and Walter Scott Cancer Research Tower, a 10-story, 98-laboratory research tower;
  • The C.L. Werner Cancer Hospital, an eight-story, 108-bed inpatient treatment center; and
  • A multidisciplinary outpatient center which includes clinics, radiation oncology, surgery, radiology, a 24/7 treatment center, lab and collaborative treatment/diagnostics.

The art of healing

In addition to breakthrough "precision medicine" that targets the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of the disease itself, the center also takes a holistic approach to health care with a healing arts program that includes commissioned artwork by such internationally acclaimed artists as Dale Chihuly (the Chihuly Sanctuary, given by Suzanne and Walter Scott) and Jun Kaneko of Omaha (the 82-foot-tall "Search" tower).

The center also features Leslie's Healing Garden, an outdoor, all-season garden created with support from Marshall and Mona Faith; as well as commissioned artwork by Rob Ley, Suzy Taekyung Kim, Matthew Placzek, Mary Zicafoose and Jennifer Steinkamp.

"The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is focused not just on treatments and cures, but on healing -- ways we can bring patient families together, to give them strength and courage, to give them the hope to deal with otherwise challenging diseases," Dr. Gold said.

Unique in its design, the Buffett Cancer Center is the most fully integrated cancer center in the world, said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. The 615,000-square-foot center, with hallways as long as football fields, puts clinical providers in close proximity with their research colleagues with the goal of more efficiently translating research to patient care.

The teams are specifically focused on breast cancer and other women's cancers, leukemia and lymphoma, lung cancer, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers, prostate cancer and head and neck cancer, as well as the cancers diagnosed in childhood.

"The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center facilitates the brightest minds in cancer research and cancer care to collaborate on finding tomorrow's cures, specifying those treatments to each patient based on their unique condition," Dr. Cowan said. "In this facility, medical scientists discover the next generation of cancer therapies targeted toward molecular changes in tumors, resulting in a treatment regimen individualized for each patient."

For the past 50 years, UNMC and Nebraska Medicine scientists and physicians have been at the forefront of discoveries and clinical care that have increased survivorship, treating patients from all 50 states and more than 42 different countries around the world.

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