Listen to the UVA Today Radio Show report on this story by Jane Ford:
February 28, 2011 — Katie Couric and University of Virginia leaders joined hundreds of guests Saturday to dedicate the new Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, which brings together U.Va.'s cancer experts in a patient-friendly facility with the most advanced treatment options.
The approximately 150,000-square-foot building for outpatient cancer care is named for the late Virginia State Senator Emily Couric, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2001. Patients will begin receiving care in the $74 million facility April 4.
Katie Couric, Emily Couric's sister and anchor of the "CBS Evening News," said the center will offer patients "comprehensive, compassionate, seamless care."
"I am so thrilled this facility exists," Couric said. "I think it's such a beautiful reflection of my sister's spirit, and I think she would be so pleased to know how many people she continues to help."
Designed to create a warm, welcoming environment, the building employs more than 21,000 square feet of glass to bring in lots of natural light and uses natural materials and colors.
The facility also has a host of features – based on conversations with patients – designed to make treatment more convenient and comfortable. For instance, dedicated clinic space is set aside for nurses coordinating clinical trials to provide patients with easier access to investigational treatments. Designated exam rooms in the women's oncology clinic have private dressing areas and bathrooms to provide additional privacy.
"The U.Va. Cancer Center is 100 percent about patients," director Michael Weber said. "We take care of the patients who are here today with skilled care, technology and compassion, and we also take care of the patients who are going to be here in the future with groundbreaking research."
U.Va.'s team of specialized cancer experts is supported by state-of-the-art treatment technology available only in a few U.S. cancer centers. U.Va. is the first cancer center in the U.S. to provide radiation oncology treatment with the TomoHD, which delivers more precisely targeted radiation treatments to patients and preserves more healthy tissue.
"It's a remarkable facility," said R. Edward Howell, vice president and chief executive officer of the U.Va. Medical Center. "It provides an opportunity to provide the most advanced treatments available for the citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia."
By designing every detail of the facility with the patient in mind, U.Va. has created an ideal place for providing care, Dr. Steven T. DeKosky, dean of the School of Medicine, said.
The facility, he said, is "infusing a tremendous sense of pride in our faculty, staff and students, that we have such a terrific place to take care of people."
U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said the facility will set new standards for patient care.
"This building to me represents hope. I think all of us have known a loved one who has been touched by cancer. In fact, today in Washington, D.C., there is a memorial service for one of my college classmates who succumbed to cancer," she said. "For all of us who have that disease touch us, knowing that there's a place like this for really compassionate care that was built with the patient in mind and has some of the world's best scientists working on cures for cancer, it's a great day of hope."