Expanding the Moffitt Network

By Sara Bondell - December 07, 2023

During the course of her treatment for cervical cancer, Amy Bondon drove 400 miles a week back and forth to Moffitt Cancer Center. She could have found treatment closer to her Ocala home, but she was drawn to Moffitt’s compassion and expertise. It was worth every mile, but that didn’t mean it was easy.

“I remember being in the car, it just being agonizing, especially going to Moffitt International Plaza,” Bondon said. “I was so uncomfortable, and I remember being stuck in traffic on I-275 and just being in tears.”

Amy Bondon, who lives in Ocala, drove 400 miles a week to Moffitt for treatment for cervical cancer.
Amy Bondon, who lives in Ocala, drove 400 miles a week to Moffitt for treatment for cervical cancer.

Now a volunteer and member of Moffitt’s Patient and Family Advisory Program, Bondon sees countless other patients struggling with long commutes to appointments.

“When you are hurting and sick, and all the things cancer and the cancer treatment do to you, being in the car is horrible,” she said.

Bondon tries to help other patients by listening and empathizing with their experiences. She helps connect them to appropriate resources for hotel accommodations and financial aid. She knows the biggest help will come when Moffitt opens its new campuses, providing care closer to home for thousands of patients.

For her and others who come from Central or North Florida, Moffitt’s new SPEROS FL campus in Pasco County will make a big difference.

“Having the campus there right off I-75 will make a tremendous difference because it will cut out probably the most congested areas. You miss I-275 and USF campus congestion,” Bondon said.

The cancer center’s three newest campuses — Speros FL, Moffitt at SouthShore and the Moffitt McKinley Hospital — will not only bring care closer to home but will also help alleviate one of Moffitt’s biggest challenges: space. The cancer center sees a 6% to 7% growth in new patient volumes year after year, creating a need for more clinical space, operating rooms, inpatient beds and research opportunities.

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"We want the patients to be able to try and get their care as close as possible to where they live."

- Bob Keenan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer

“We want the patients to be able to try and get their care as close as possible to where they live. The whole idea behind MoffittCare is that it should not matter geographically where you are receiving your care,” said Chief Medical Officer Bob Keenan, M.D. “We now have to start thinking more as a system.”

Moffitt McKinley Hospital

If you drove by the Moffitt McKinley Hospital (MMH) on any given day over the past year, things looked different. After years of planning, fiscal year 2023 was characterized by construction. The building started to look more and more like a hospital — inside and out — and the bridge was constructed linking the new hospital with the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center.

Christine Alvero, vice president of Hospital Operations at MMH
Christine Alvero, Vice President of Hospital Operations, Moffitt McKinley Hospital

“There’s a feeling when you walk in that it’s really happening. This is really a hospital, and it has come together,” said Christine Alvero, vice president of Hospital Operations at MMH. “It’s functional, it’s patient-focused and it’s inviting.”

The hospital is a true team effort. Planning teams worked with architects, physicians, nurses and patients to make sure everyone’s needs were met. More than 4,000 construction workers served on the project. As of June 2023, Moffitt had committed contracts of approximately $60.7 million with diverse vendors on the new hospital. This reflects approximately 16.5% of the total project budget, far exceeding Moffitt’s original goal.

About 300 employees moved from Moffitt’s Magnolia campus to work at the new hospital, including the operating rooms (OR) and prep and recovery units, as well as postoperative inpatient units. The hospital is also continuing to fill 800 new positions.

Hospital planning teams worked with architects, physicians, nurses and patients to make sure everyone’s needs were met.
Hospital planning teams worked with architects, physicians, nurses and patients to make sure everyone’s needs were met.

The new hospital’s 19 operating rooms give Moffitt five additional rooms for surgeries. Although the operating rooms at Magnolia have been temporarily shut down, two are still available for emergency surgeries. All of the operating rooms at MMH are the same size with the same setup.

“This means we can truly schedule in any OR. If a surgeon isn’t going to use a blocked time, anyone can pick it up,” Alvero said. “It will help the patient experience because you can get them scheduled quicker. You can grab any open OR and get the patients in much, much quicker.”

MMH is also home to an intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) system that will enable three-dimensional navigation systems to locate tumors. It allows a surgeon to conduct intraoperative imaging without moving the patient. The machine slides into the operating room on a rail system. Once the imaging is performed, the machine recedes back into its shielded unit and the surgery continues.

Patients and caregivers also have peaceful spaces for respite at the new hospital. Helen Rich became one of Moffitt’s first donors to invest in the hospital when she agreed to name the facility’s new spiritual retreat. Just outside, patients and caregivers have additional space for respite with the Ferman Family Garden and Pathway, donated by Celia and Jim Ferman.

The top two floors at MMH aren’t currently being used but are ready to be built out as surgical volumes increase or as a need arises to move outpatient services for solid tumor patients to the campus. The units at the Magnolia campus that moved over to MMH will be refurbished and will most likely reopen to serve blood cancer and transplant patients.

Moffitt McKinley Hospital - By the Numbers

  • 500,000 square feet
  • 26,000-square-foot central utility plant
  • 1,000 team members
  • 879 parking spaces
  • 128 inpatient beds with capacity to expand
  • 19 operating rooms and 72 perioperative rooms
  • 10 floors
  • 2 nuclear medicine cameras
  • 1 intraoperative MRI
  • 1 diagnostic CT scanner
  • Opened July 2023

Speros FL

“Speros” is a derivative of the Latin verb “sperare,” which means “to hope.” Hope is the driving force behind Moffitt’s mission, and the cancer center will be spreading hope to more patients when it brings its personalized oncology and leading research to its largest expansion yet: Speros FL in Pasco County.

Moffitt broke ground on the 775-acre medical city in January 2023, kicking off construction of the first 75 acres of development named the W.E. Simpson Concourse for Cures. Roads and infrastructure are underway for the first phase of development, which will include a Moffitt-owned 100,000-square-foot clinic with a state-of-the-art proton therapy center and a cutting-edge research center. Approximately a 25-minute drive from Tampa International Airport and adjacent to the Suncoast Parkway, Speros FL will enhance access to care, research, clinical trials, academic training and medical tourism.

Moffitt broke ground on the 775-acre Speros FL campus in January 2023. From left: Timothy Adams, chair of Moffitt’s Institute Board; U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis; Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture; U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee; Patrick Hwu, MD, Moffitt’s president and CEO; and founder H. Lee Moffitt make it official.
Moffitt broke ground on the 775-acre Speros FL campus in January 2023. From left: Timothy Adams, chair of Moffitt’s Institute Board; U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis; Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture; U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee; Patrick Hwu, M.D., Moffitt’s president and CEO; and founder H. Lee Moffitt make it official.

Phase 1A will cost $1.6 billion, $1 billion of which will come from the private sector. Agricultural Commissioner and former Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson was crucial in helping secure funding for the project, which includes a significant allocation of the proceeds from the state cigarette tax, distributed to Moffitt on a yearly basis. The project also received a $3 million federal appropriation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis.

“Thousands of jobs will be created here, and we will be curing cancer,” Simpson said. “Families will be able to keep their loved ones around a lot longer, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

The research center will have offices and wet and dry lab space. Moffitt is in negotiations to build a cold temperature biorepository and a data center. A large number of core research programs will be moving to the campus, including Machine Learning, Bioengineering and Cell Therapies.

Moffitt has a large vision when it comes to developing the rest of the campus in the future. A newly appointed four-member board will provide guidance and stewardship of the campus to help grow the ecosystem of global innovation.
Moffitt has a large vision when it comes to developing the rest of the campus in the future. A newly appointed four-member board will provide guidance and stewardship of the campus to help grow the ecosystem of global innovation.

The clinic will operate similarly to the cancer center’s other ambulatory centers at Moffitt at International Plaza and Moffitt at Wesley Chapel, but with a bigger focus on radiation therapy and proton therapy. A philanthropic gift of $15 million from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation helped fund the new proton therapy unit. Proton therapy is used to treat a growing number of cancers but is especially beneficial when treating areas where cancerous lesions are close to other vital structures. Using protons minimizes damage to healthy tissue surrounding tumors, impacting only the targeted area.

David de la Parte, Esq., Speros FL President, Moffitt Executive Vice President and General Counsel
David de la Parte, Esq., Speros FL President, Moffitt Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Moffitt has a large vision when it comes to developing the rest of the campus in the future. A newly appointed four-member board will provide guidance and stewardship of the campus to help grow the ecosystem of global innovation. Projects could include drug manufacturing facilities, family lodging, a convention center and a community hospital. About 275 acres of the land will be preserved and integrated into the larger campus design, and there is a 6th- through 12th-grade STEM school across the street. There will be an estimated need for 14,000 team members as the project grows over the next decade.

“It’s a complex endeavor truthfully, but it’s not the first time we have done something like this, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it,” said David de la Parte, Esq., Speros FL president, Moffitt executive vice president and general counsel. “Moffitt is an intersection of the best and brightest in science and patient care with industry and commercial opportunity. Speros will enable us to scale that innovation ecosystem many times over.”

Speros FL - By the Numbers

  • 775 acres (500 acres developed, 35% left for conservation)
  • 250,000- to 300,000-square-foot research center
  • 100,000-square-foot clinic building, including an ambulatory center and proton therapy unit
  • 14,000 team members
  • 140 buildings
  • 6 miles of new road
  • $1.6 billion – cost of Phase 1A
  • $1 billion private-sector investment
  • $600 million investment from Moffitt, the state of Florida and Pasco County
  • Ambulatory center and research facility opening 2025, proton therapy unit opening 2026

Moffitt at SouthShore

When it came time to build another new ambulatory center, Moffitt conducted research on patient volumes and found that a large number come from the south, from areas such as Bradenton and Sun City Center. Ruskin felt like the perfect spot.

In 2022, the cancer center finalized the purchase of 9 acres at the intersection of East College Avenue and 27th Street South for Moffitt at SouthShore.

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"Our focus is to foster an environment of equality and unity within Moffitt, where all campuses are regarded as equals and contribute significantly to our collective mission."

- Jazmin Calzada, Director of Nursing and Ambulatory Clinic Operations

“We are continuing to develop the concept that the Magnolia campus is not the only place where you can receive elite-level cancer care,” said Jazmin Calzada, director of Nursing and Ambulatory Clinic Operations. “Our focus is to foster an environment of equality and unity within Moffitt, where all campuses are regarded as equals and contribute significantly to our collective mission.”

Moffitt at SouthShore will offer many of the same services as the Magnolia and McKinley campuses but will focus on a robust radiology program. Many patients wait up to four weeks for radiology modalities, so the clinic will help decompress that need and enable certain patients to get imaging closer to home.

The clinic will treat all cancer diagnoses outside of surgical procedures. It will be staffed with three to five multispecialist medical oncologists, working alongside a few specialty medical and surgical oncologists who may travel back and forth between sites. Specialists at other locations can also be brought into appointments via a virtual visit. There will be at least one radiation oncologist to start, and that number will grow as patient volumes grow. All patients can come to the site for infusions, imaging and blood draw.

Eric Haura, MD, Associate Center Director of Clinical Science
Eric Haura, M.D., Associate Center Director of Clinical Science

Moffitt at SouthShore also brings an opportunity to expand clinical trials to more patients closer to their homes. The goal is to open a sizeable list of therapeutic trials that patients can be enrolled in, including trials for breast, lung, gastrointestinal and genitourinary cancers and some blood cancers. Nontherapeutic trials and health outcomes and behavior trials or surveys can also be done at the satellite location.

“The consistent belief is that patients treated on clinical trials have the best outcomes, so it’s really important for us to be able to get out to the communities where more patients are living,” said Eric Haura, M.D., associate center director of Clinical Science. “We realize it’s difficult to drive to come to the Magnolia campus, especially if people are one, two, three hours away. It’s very disruptive for them and their families, especially for people who have children or they’re working.”

To integrate clinical trials into Moffitt at SouthShore, the research team has to build out the infrastructure on how to enroll, consent and manage trial patients. That could include having clinical coordinators physically on-site or using virtual visits to remotely consent patients.

All infusion nurses on-site will be trained as hybrid nurses so they can administer medications to clinical trial patients. There will also be a core tissue lab with all the resources needed to operate a hybrid infusion and clinical research unit space.

In 2022, the cancer center finalized the purchase of 9 acres at the intersection of East College Avenue and 27th Street South for Moffitt at SouthShore.
In 2022, the cancer center finalized the purchase of 9 acres at the intersection of East College Avenue and 27th Street South for Moffitt at SouthShore.

About 150 projected new hires will be needed to staff the clinic when it opens in the fall of 2024. The goal is to have at least half of the staff be existing Moffitt team members to help transition the Moffitt culture over more easily. Working at the new location may also cut down the commute for team members who live closer to Ruskin.

Moffitt at SouthShore - By the Numbers

  • 75,000 square feet
  • 347 parking spaces
  • 22 infusion bays plus 2 observation bays
  • 18 clinical exam rooms
  • 10 blood draw bays
  • 4 MRIs
  • 4 radiation oncology exam rooms
  • 4 CT scans
  • 2 ultrasounds
  • 2 mammography units
  • 2 linear accelerators
  • 1 CT simulator
  • 1 PET/CT scan
  • 1 gamma camera
  • 1 clinical lab
  • 1 core facility lab
  • Opening fall 2024

Planning for the Future

When Moffitt had to find the best way to solve its space issue, the cancer center chose building new campuses for one important reason: the patients. So patients like Amy Bondon, who spend hours in the car going to and from treatment, can get the same care as close as possible to where they live.

In order to make these new sites successful, Moffitt has to start thinking like a system. It’s no longer a main location with satellite campuses, but rather an interconnected web of health care and research, utilizing digital innovations to help connect the sites.

It requires a tremendous amount of planning. Moffitt at SouthShore and Speros FL aren’t even open yet, and the Moffitt Medical Group is already anticipating the future needs for growth. After the top floors of Moffitt McKinley Hospital are built out and the vacant units are reopened at Magnolia, what comes next?

As chief medical officer, Keenan is both excited for the current expansion and already planning for the growth to come: “Today is today, but you always have to think about tomorrow on some level.”

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