Moffitt’s Future Taking Shape

By Contributing Writer - January 22, 2021

Venture less than two miles from Moffitt Cancer Center’s familiar Magnolia campus hospital, and you can see the future taking shape.

A new inpatient surgical hospital, 10 stories high with nearly a half-million square feet of space, is rising on the 21-acre McKinley campus directly across from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center. The new facility will expand Moffitt Cancer Center’s capacity for inpatient care and modernize our ability to treat and cure.

When completed in 2023, the new hospital will boast 128 inpatient rooms – and the capacity to expand to 400 beds as demand grows. It features 19 operating rooms large and flexible enough for current and future technologies, as well as 72 pre- and post-operative rooms. Digital imaging capabilities will include three MRI scanners, three CT scanners and two nuclear cameras. A pedestrian walkway across McKinley Drive will link the new hospital to our existing outpatient center. Another walkway will provide convenient access to an adjacent three-story parking garage with nearly 500 spaces.

The economic impact of the new facility will be significant, creating upwards of $120 million in direct salaries with 5,500 workers estimated to work on the project from beginning to end. Additionally, Moffitt Cancer Center is committed to the inclusion of diversity vendors in all aspects of the expansion hospital construction project. The construction management team working on the project consists of Barr & Barr and Horus Construction Services (a local, Tampa-based minority owned business). Working with Moffitt as part of the cancer center’s supplier diversity outreach efforts, Barr & Barr and Horus Construction Services conducted two supplier diversity vendor outreach events in 2020.

portrait of blockquote author

"I guess we’re a victim of our own success. We are the ‘go-to’ place when you get cancer – whether for a second opinion or treatment. As word gets out of how good we are, more and more people are seeking help at the center."

- H. Lee Moffitt, founder and former Florida Speaker of the House

The $400 million project comes not a moment too soon. Over the next 10 years, Moffitt Cancer Center anticipates a 65% increase in patient volumes and a 33% increase in cancer surgeries. The cancer center’s existing 34-year old hospital has been maxed out under today’s demands with no space to grow. But it still will be needed after the expansion hospital is completed. The Magnolia campus hospital will serve patients with blood cancers and other diagnoses that lend themselves to non-surgical treatments like stem cell transplants and innovative immunotherapies such as CAR T.

“I guess we’re a victim of our own success,” said founder and former Florida Speaker of the House H. Lee Moffitt. “We are the ‘go-to’ place when you get cancer – whether for a second opinion or treatment. As word gets out of how good we are, more and more people are seeking help at the center.”

“Florida has the second highest cancer burden of any state in America,” noted Timothy J. Adams, chair, Moffitt Cancer Center Institute Board of Directors. “Moffitt must continue to be a resource for our patients by building for the future.”

Designing the Future with Imaginative Tools

Designing for the future required the input and imagination of many who will use the new hospital. Physicians, nurses, lab personnel, pharmacy staff, even leadership and administrators – and most importantly, patients and families – more than 170 stakeholders took part in four immersive design events (IDE) in early 2019 under the guidance of architects HDR, Inc. 

“It’s an interactive process to bring groups from varying backgrounds together and work towards the same goal,” explained Susan Avon, director of Moffitt Space Planning and Programming. Designers get immediate feedback from frontline staff. And in the end, everyone involved becomes a mutual author of the final plan.

To free the imagination, the IDE used some simple tools. Blocks representing patient rooms, work spaces, storage areas, equipment and other items were shuffled around on paper floor plans. Pieces of yarn were snaked along drawn hallways to represent the workflows of moving staff, supplies and patients throughout the building. When one group encountered a roadblock, they could quickly brainstorm with others to find a solution. For example, when lab personnel needed to configure their space differently to accommodate equipment, their colleagues working on adjacent surgical suites were able to trade a corner of their space.

“We had many instances like that,” said Avon, “little things that might never have happened if people hadn't been in the room together to have the conversation.”

Once imagined on paper, full-scale room mock-ups were created for participants to walk through and make adjustments. Cardboard walls framed space for beds and equipment, with photos of outlets, sharps containers and light switches in their assigned places. That was an incredibly valuable experience for Laura Barber, a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council and caregiver to husband Steve throughout his treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center.

“There’s no way, in my opinion, that you could make all the decisions we needed to make without actually being in the space,” said Barber. “It really gave you an idea of the scale and scope of what we were hoping to accomplish.”

“Everyone brought a different point of view,” said Sachin Apte, MD, associate chief medical officer. “We wanted to be sure to take everyone’s expertise into account, so that we could build the most patient-centered, family-centered and efficient facility possible.”

Space to Innovate

For physicians like neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist Arnold Etame, MD, that meant operating rooms designed with flexibility and space to innovate.

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"It’s 100% driven by the desire to improve our patient care…and the desire for us to safely take care of as many patients as possible in a timely fashion."

- Dr. Arnold Etame, neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist

“The surgeons who did this 30-40 years ago, would be blown away if they could see the three-dimensional navigation systems incorporating critical white matter and tumor information that we currently use to safely operate on the brain,” said Etame. Nor would they likely have imagined a surgeon controlling robotic instruments from a console in the OR.  Or wearing 3-D goggles to view high-definition video of the surgical field on an LCD screen. Or intraoperative MRI for real-time tumor imaging during surgery. Or using fluorescent lighting to clearly see the edges of a tumor dyed purple from special dyes ingested by the patient.

Those technological innovations have already arrived. Fitting them into the cancer center’s existing operating rooms has been challenging. Etame said the new hospital’s surgical suites needed to be larger to accommodate multiple imaging and navigation systems - and flexible enough to incorporate technologies we haven’t yet imagined.

“It’s 100% driven by the desire to improve our patient care,” said Etame, “and the desire for us to safely take care of as many patients as possible in a timely fashion.”

For nurses like Itai Gwede, RN, BSN, MSN, OCN, the key for the new hospital was not only larger patient rooms but more of them. As patient care manager of the Magnolia hospital’s 4-South unit, she and her staff treat patients after their surgeries.

“We know patients are out there waiting to come to Moffitt for care,” said Gwede. “The new hospital design gives us 32 patient rooms per unit versus the 24 we have now. That alone will allow us to increase the number of patients we serve and reduce wait times.”

Gwede said uniformity in the patient room size, shape and layout will make delivery of care more efficient. Added technology – like allowing patients to control room temperature with their own smart devices rather than asking staff to assist – will give nurses more time to focus on care. A “family zone” within each patient room, complete with a fold-out couch and work area, will allow patients to have their needed support at hand in a hopefully post-COVID world. Even simple touches like windows to allow for more natural light will promote healing.

“When you create a home-like environment, your patients heal better and faster,” said Gwede.

For Jason Bever of the Patient and Family Advisory Council, another important factor was spaces beyond patient rooms. “We wanted to see open air, warm and inviting spaces within the new hospital,” said Bever. His fellow PFAC member Laura Barber agreed.  “This facility is going to be beautiful, with gardens and elements of Florida nature.

“Moffitt’s new hospital is really going to set a precedent for other hospitals,” said Barber. “It’s going to be a safe and welcoming place.”

It’s a welcome that will extend to so many who will be counting on Moffitt Cancer Center in years to come.

“This hospital will increase the power and speed with which Moffitt can translate our discoveries to the benefit of all people,” said Jack Kolosky, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “It will blend the most advanced medical and surgical technologies with a patient-centered approach that brings us closer to achieving our vision — to transform cancer care through service, science and partnership.”

Photos of Moffitt new hospital tour hosted by President and CEO Dr. Patrick Hwu


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