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CARTI holds groundbreaking for hub

West LR center to battle cancer opens in fall ’15

By Jack Weatherly

This article was published December 12, 2013 at 3:45 a.m.


Artist’s rendering of the CARTI Cancer Center, which is to open in fall 2015.

Nearly 150 people gathered on a sunny 37-acre wooded lot in Little Rock on Wednesday afternoon to hear about the future of what used to be called the Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute.

Now called the CARTI Cancer Center, it will offer under one roof medical, surgical and radiation oncology and diagnostic radiology, as well as hematology services when the $90 million center opens in fall 2015. It will also feature clinics dedicated to imaging, research, pharmacy and support programs.

“Since first opening our doors in 1976, CARTI has been committed to its mission of promoting the finest quality cancer treatment and compassionate patient care while also improving our knowledge through education and research,” said Jan Burford, CARTI president and chief executive officer. “It is that commitment that brings us here this afternoon to celebrate the next phase in the future of CARTI.”

The ceremony Wednesday was labeled a groundbreaking, but site preparation started in October and infrastructure is already being put in, according to spokesman Alison Melson. The land was purchased for $5.1 million from the Alley family, which owns VCC Construction, formerly Vratsinas Construction Co.

CARTI dissolved its partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on June 30, 2012. UAMS paid CARTI $9.5 million for its assets at the medical school’s campus.

Burford has said in the past that having all aspects of cancer treatment under one roof maximizes the effort. Fatigue is a problem for cancer patients, so reducing travel from one treatment center to the next is desirable, Burford has said.

In August 2012. The institute acquired Little Rock Hematology Oncology and Radiation Oncology Associates as a part of its plan to offer comprehensive services.

“For 35 years, CARTI offered basically one specialty in the … treatment of cancer, [which] has really changed, and that’s radiation therapy,” Burford has said. It became evident that there is a “need to have closer collaboration between the various specialties.”

After the 170,000-squarefoot center is opened on Riley Drive off John Barrow Road, CARTI will continue to offer radiation therapy at St. Vincent Health System and Baptist Health System campuses in Little Rock and North Little Rock, Searcy, Conway and Mountain Home.

Except for the Little Rock clinic, whose services will be moved to the new center, chemotherapy will continue to be offered in North Little Rock, Heber Springs, Benton, Clinton, El Dorado and Morrilton, Russellville, Conway, Stuttgart and Monticello, Melson said.

The CARTI Foundation launched a $10 million capital campaign to raise funds to enhance the new center, provide equipment and program support.

“Our Building Hope, Fighting Cancer campaign has a goal of raising 10 million dollars to assist the facility, equipment and program support,” announced Sharon Heflin, capital campaign co-chairman and CARTI Foundation board member. “We are happy to report, to date, we have already raised $7,609,926, which is more than 76 percent of our goal.”

Business, Pages 28 on 12/12/2013

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