CEDAR RAPIDS — Hundreds of tiny bells jingled in unison at the invitation of Dee Eadie, executive director of the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center.
“It lets you know that something is special is happening,” Eadie said of the bells, traditionally rung at the end of a cancer patient’s treatment.
On Thursday, the bells signified a beginning, as Mercy Medical Center’s new cancer center officially opened its doors during a grand opening celebration. The $24.6 million center, 701 10th St. SE, opened for patients in March, but Thursday’s event marked the completion of the construction phase.
With 100,000 square feet in three levels, patients can find all components of cancer care in one location, Mercy CEO Tim Charles said. Amenities on the first and third floors include an exercise room; heated infusion chairs for chemotherapy; a community room; a coffee shop; meditation space; a pharmacy; and an image recovery center with a salon for wig-fitting, prosthetics and more. The second floor remains open for future expansion.
Charles specifically cited radiation treatment, which Mercy’s Hall Radiation Center has offered in Cedar Rapids for decades. In fact, Mercy was the only Cedar Rapids hospital permitted to provide radiation until last year, when the state Health Facilities Council approved St. Luke’s Hospital’s certificate of need for an Intraoperative Radiation Therapy system, marking St. Luke’s first foray into that type of treatment.
None of the speakers referenced the somewhat contentious battle between the two hospitals, but Charles noted that 60 percent of cancer patients require radiation treatment.
Mercy board member Mary Quass, 62, of Mount Vernon, president and CEO of NRG Media in Cedar Rapids, said the new center remains patient-focused, as it was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I stand here 14 years later to say thank you for what you’ve done for this community,” Quass said, her voice breaking with emotion.
Angie Schroeder, 41, of Cedar Rapids, was one of hundreds of visitors who attended the grand opening. Diagnosed with breast cancer in December, Schroeder, who works in Iowa City, experienced the old and the new buildings for her chemotherapy.
“This is amazing,” she said of the new space. “It was much more comfortable and relaxed for the treatments.”