Ann McDonald, center, introduces Berkshire Health Systems employees on Monday to the new BHS Oncology Center at Hillcrest Hospital in Pittsfield.
Ann McDonald, center, introduces Berkshire Health Systems employees on Monday to the new BHS Oncology Center at Hillcrest Hospital in Pittsfield. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

PITTSFIELD -- One year after the project was first announced, Berkshire Health Systems has completed the first phase of its $30 million state-of-the-art cancer center.

Workers have finished construction of office space for the Berkshire Hematology Oncology physician practice, the Berkshire Medical Center infusion suite, the cancer center's pharmacy, and the drawing center.

All of those services are located on the third and fourth floors of the former hospital building at BMC's Hillcrest campus on Tor Court.

BHS will be holding tours of those new facilities for patients and their families from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Tours for the general public will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Patients and families who can't attend today's session can also attend the tours that are open to the public. For tour information, call (413) 443-4761.

The completed facilities are expected to be in service between the end of September and the beginning of October. The pharmacy will undergo a final inspection by the Department of Public Health on Thursday.

The second construction phase of the four-story, 49,893-square-foot facility is expected to be completed by this winter. The third and final phase of the BMC Cancer Center will be completed sometime in 2014. Public tours of those two phases will be conducted after they are completed.

The pharmacy, infusion center and doctor's offices were completed first to allow the physicians from Berkshire Hematology Oncology to move on campus, said Ruth Blodgett, BHS' senior vice president for planning and development.

Berkshire Hematology Oncology is partnering with BHS on the cancer center, and its four physicians -- Michael DeLeo, Harvey Zimbler, Paul Rosenthal and Trevor Bayliss -- are joining BMC's Physician Practice organization.

"It allows for the integration of Berkshire Health Systems and Berkshire Hematology Oncology, and allows them to get integrated into the expansion of service," Blodgett said.

The four physicians are moving to Hillcrest from their current facility on Dan Fox Drive.

"Berkshire Hematology Oncology is very cramped for space," on Dan Fox Drive, Blodgett said.

The completed facilities all contain cutting-edge equipment, and expansive views of the hospital grounds, particularly the side of the building that looks out on Onota Lake. The infusion station on the fourth floor contains 36 stations, and a few private rooms, to allow patients to receive chemotherapy and other infusions.

A pharmaceutical station at the new oncology center is computer controlled and photographs every step of the process of mixing medicines.
A pharmaceutical station at the new oncology center is computer controlled and photographs every step of the process of mixing medicines. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

When the facility is completed, "it will probably be the most state-of-the art cancer center that we know of in Massachusetts," said Ann McDonald, BHS' director of oncology services.

About a third of the project's $30 million price tag was spent on the first phase of construction, said Joe LaRoche, BHS' facilities manager. The most expensive construction phase is expected to be the third one because that is when the radiation oncology clinic is scheduled to be built. The project is being funded entirely by BHS.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com
(413) 496-6224
On Twitter: @tonydobrow

By the numbers ...

Key statistics for Berkshire Health Systems' new cancer facility in Pittsfield.

n Cost: $30 million

n Projected opening: 2014

n Total square footage: 49,893 (current total is 18,781)

n Infusion space: 11,170 square feet

n Physician Practice: 9,836

n Radiation Oncology: 14,240

n Lobby: 2,106

n Lab: 2,204

n Pharmacy: 2,182

n Wellness: 8,100

n Infusion chairs: 36 (including 2 to 3 private/isolation rooms)

n Infusion chair space: 85- to 110 square feet (DPH standard is 80).