PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Highmark Health and the Allegheny Health Network cut the ribbon Monday on their new Cancer Institute at Allegheny General Hospital. The plan is for it to serve as the nucleus for their cancer research, clinical trials, medics and education.

The new 90,000 foot facility is being called the centerpiece of the healthcare network’s more than $300 million investment to expand cancer care across the region.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

This center opens at a time when AHN has recently opened up new community cancer centers in Butler, Beaver and Westmoreland counties. AHN said there are 24 sites in all serving as part of the Cancer Institute. This new center serving as the hub.

“Where patients come in for their expert opinions, for clinical trials, for research opportunities. They can get their care closer to home in one of our cancer institute facilities,” AHN Cancer Institute Chair Dr. David Bartlett.

He said everything that went into the building’s design has been focused on the patient experience.

“It’s all about what’s best for the patient at such a difficult diagnosis. It’s so difficult to go through these treatments,” Dr. Bartlett said outside Allegheny General Hospital.

Some of the services the cancer center plans to provide include:

· State-of-the-art radiation oncology capabilities, such as the latest generation Gamma Knife for treatment of brain cancer and other complex neurological conditions, and one of the first MRI linear accelerators in the United States, for treating solid tumors with high precision radiotherapy.

· One of the world’s first Gamma Pod systems, a groundbreaking, high precision technology designed specifically for the treatment of breast cancer. The system delivers highly precise, high dose radiation to breast tumors, significantly reducing treatment time and toxicity.

· Forty-eight comfortable infusion bays for chemotherapy and other therapies, and 42 patient exam rooms with telemedicine capabilities

· Personal navigators to guide every patient’s experience at the center

· A conference suite for academic, scientific and clinical team collaborations

· A positive image salon for women undergoing cancer treatment

· Nutritional counseling, social services and financial counseling

· Valet parking and comfortable accommodations for family members and loved ones

“We have a lot still to do, but this is a great start,” Dr. Bartlett said.

In September, AHN said a Clinical Genomics Facility will open over on Federal Street to compliment the cancer center’s research. It will study and pioneer advanced biological therapies for a patient’s particular tumor.