Shore Memorial Cancer Center

Shore Memorial Cancer Center

Abstract released by Fenwick Architects

Project Name: Shore Memorial Cancer Center—the only facility in the region with the highly sophisticated Varian Clinical 21 EX linear accelerator
Project Location: Somers Point, New Jersey
Project Completion Date: August 2004
Shore Memorial Hospital overview

For more than 60 years, Shore Memorial Hospital has been providing health care to the citizens of the Atlantic City region of southern New Jersey. A not-for-profit, 296 bed medical facility with more than 35 medical and surgical specialties, 350 doctors and 1,600 employees, Shore Memorial is the only hospital in the region offering a clinical affiliation with the world-renowned University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Offering cancer treatment since 1983, Shore Memorial’s cancer program in 1987 was certified by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. Nationwide, only one in four hospitals that treat cancer receives this approval. In 1991, Shore Memorial purchased a linear accelerator to offer on-site radiation therapy.

Shore Memorial Cancer Center background

By 2002, Shore Memorial’s cancer program had outgrown its basement location, and the aging of the linear accelerator was a major concern. Because a current state-of-the-art linear accelerator would not fit into the existing vault, the hospital’s Health Foundation office decided it was time to raise money and develop plans for a stand-alone cancer facility outside the hospital. Land the hospital owned across the street at the corner of Shore Road and Brighton Avenue was identified as the ideal location. Planning got underway in 2002 and a “legacy campaign” fundraising program was launched.

It was decided that the purpose of the Cancer Center should be to provide those with cancer and their families easy access to quality, comprehensive Radiation Oncology Services, Supportive and Continuing Care Services, Clinical Research, Cancer Education, Prevention and Early Detection Programs. One of the primary goals in designing the facility was to provide physical and emotional cancer care in a warm, supportive environment. The Cancer Center should offer services to area residents close to home, allowing the full support of family and friends.

Enter Fenwick Architects, Architects and Planners

“Designing a $10.5 million cancer center around a highly sophisticated $1.7 million Varian Clinical 21 EX linear accelerator, with all these amenities and specific needs, called for an outstanding architectural firm with a unique combination of artistry, technical skills and great sensitivity,” says Donna J. Cericola, administrative director, Oncology.

“Working through our developer, Scarborough Development, Inc., Gibbsboro, N.J., we interviewed three different firms and selected Fenwick Architects in Linwood, a town close by Somers Point. The selection committee admired the simple but striking structures Fenwick had already designed in our region. The firm’s work speaks for itself. Their buildings always seem to fit with great sensitivity into their settings and streetscapes. This was important because Shore Road is one of the oldest streets in America, and the Somers Point Historical Society had very strict guidelines into which this cancer care center had to fit. We found the Fenwick team of architects comfortable to work with,” Cericola said.

An award winning architectural firm since 1979, Fenwick Architects believes strongly on the basic philosophy that buildings are machines for doing things. “If you build a bad building, it will slow you down each day, while building it right will assist you in achieving your goals,” says founder Stephen J. Fenwick, R.A. For the past quarter century, Fenwick has been “building it right” with new construction, additions and historical renovations for medical offices, banks, professional office buildings, golf and country clubs, hotels, motels, restaurants, single family homes, bed and breakfasts.

“Designing Shore Memorial Cancer Center challenged our core philosophy that a building must suit the need,” Fenwick says. “The need called for a high-tech, highly-sophisticated, state-of-the-art technical center that was at the same time warm and welcoming: one that would blend into a residential, Victorian setting.”

Cancer Center designed around privacy and dignity

Fenwick was asked to design a building where both physical and emotional cancer care was given in a warm, caring environment for patient, family and staff. To accommodate this workflow, the design of the facility was to improve the performance and productivity of the staff, while also reducing stress for the patient, family and staff. Fenwick was asked to focus attention on the element of light in the building. These plans should reflect efforts to provide natural light in rooms and areas where the patient and family are waiting and/or being provided cancer supportive services.

The first floor was to house the Radiation Therapy Department including the $1.7 million linear accelerator. The accelerator is the tool used to deliver pinpoint doses of radiation, high-energy X-rays in a way that minimizes dosages to normal surrounding tissues. Called “the vault,” the room to house the linear accelerator needed to be at least 30 feet wide with seven-foot-thick concrete walls. A person seeking treatment must walk through a 5,400-pound metal door into the treatment room. The first floor was also to house a reception area and lobby, a CT scanner room, a patient and family cancer resource library, including internet access, a conference room for treatment consultations, rooms for social services counseling, nutritional counseling and private patient dressing rooms.

The second floor was to house the Cancer Program Department including a professional library for physicians, nurses and radiation therapists, offices for clinical research, conference rooms for psychosocial counseling, survivorship workshops, support groups, lymphedema prevention and management, nutritional counseling, cancer data management, public education, prevention and detection.

The third floor was to house the Information Systems Department including a scanning center for all clinical data and medical records.

Fenwick Associates report card

Built in just 13 months, the 21st Century, $10.5 million, 28,700 square foot center officially opened on September 9, 2004 to rave reviews.

“Fenwick’s neo-Victorian building artfully blends into the historic residential neighborhood,” Cericola says “The Fenwick team listened carefully to our workflow requirements and delivered a superior interior workspace. It is a joy to actually work here. The Historical Society thought the design paid great attention to historic detail and fit comfortably into the Somers Point streetscape. They are very, very pleased.”

One patient who had been with Shore Memorial for nine years says, “The new building is great! For someone undergoing treatment for something as terrifying as cancer, the flow of this new building is so comfortable.”

Another long-time patient liked the way the architects had selected cool, soothing colors for the walls and floor coverings. She said the atmosphere is comforting, helps her to relax and take away stress.

Says a new patient, “Walking in from the parking lot, you are greeted with warm wood, loving colors and gentle music. Soft colors and quiet music are in all the treatment areas creating an atmosphere that is both soothing and comforting.”

Cericola says “The response has been overwhelming. Our patients tell us that they love the family-like atmosphere of the new Center. They are sharing more stories. They feel like they’re at home with friends. I attribute much of this warm response to the way the Fenwick team took our goals to heart and skillfully brought them to life as they shaped the center into a warm, caring environment.”