(The Center Square) – A $10 million matching grant from state taxpayer funds will allow cancer patients in Southern Illinois to get comprehensive cancer treatment closer to home without having to drive 50 to 100 miles.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker visited the Southern Illinois Healthcare Cancer Center in Cartersville to announce the $10 million award for the expansion and modernization of the SIH Cancer Institute in Carterville. SIH has raised an additional $10 million in matching funds for the expansion effort.
“Our oncologists are really proud of what we have here,” said Dr. Susie O’Neill, system clinical oncology service line director for SIH. “Cancer patients can get all the services they need under one roof.”
Cancer patients and their caregivers have enough stress without having to drive long distances for their treatment appointments, she said.
“They are thrilled to have a facility that is closer to home,” O’Neill said.
SIH President and CEO John Antes told The Center Square that the rates of cancer in Southern Illinois are higher than the state and national averages.
“There was a critical need for the expansion of the center,” he said.
He called the buildout of the Cartersville facility “a shining example of SIH’s commitment to the people we serve.”
The expansion has made it possible to increase the number of infusion bays at the facility. The pharmacy is now state of the art. They have increased the size of the patient exam rooms and added a full-service lab, O’Neill said.
The Cartersville Center is adjacent to a wooded wildlife center, a peaceful location that is conducive to healing. The infusion rooms where cancer patients are treated for 2 to 8 hours per visit overlook a pond that is part of the landscape design. The Cancer Center features 52 works of art commissioned from local artists, some of them former cancer patients.
O’Neill said patients are partnered with both a nurse navigator and a financial contact who help guide them through their treatment process.
“We work with people through their journey to mitigate any barriers they have,” O’Neill said.
At the governor’s announcement, state Rep. Dr. Paul Jacobs, R-Pomona, said “many lives will be saved because of this expansion.”
State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, thanked local, state and federal leaders for their bipartisan support of the Cancer Center’s expansion.
“This expansion ensures patient access to life-saving care. It also brings new good paying jobs to our region,” he said.
Rebuild Illinois is the largest capital program in state history. Funding from the plan comes from tax and fee increases that were approved in 2019 and supports all modes of transportation and provides funds for hospitals and schools.