Expanses of glass, steel and composite panels reflect expertise and advanced technology and treatment
By BECKY GILLETTE
Despite the disruptions to construction caused by the pandemic, the new CARTI Surgery Center, under construction since the summer of 2021, is set to open to the public in early June.
“The CARTI Surgery Center will begin seeing patients this spring,” said Adam Head, president and CEO of CARTI, the state’s largest not-for-profit multidisciplinary cancer care provider with treatment centers in 18 locations across the state. “We hope the community will join us for our official grand opening on Friday, June 9.”
Head said that once open, the facility will be the only cancer-focused surgery center in Arkansas—and one of only a few nationwide. The surgery center will be located at CARTI’s main Little Rock campus.
“Our new center will ensure our patients can continue their journeys at CARTI, receiving earlier, more convenient surgical care, all delivered by the unparalleled medical providers they know and trust,” Head said. “The CARTI Surgery Center embodies our mission to make trusted cancer care accessible to every patient we serve. For nearly 50 years, we have delivered the world’s most advanced forms of cancer care—all within a single, statewide network.”
The nearly 60,000-square-foot CARTI Surgery Center will include eight private overnight rooms, 12 recovery rooms, 14 pre- and post-op rooms and six large operating rooms, two of which have da Vinci Robotic-Assisted Technology. Other features will feature an interventional radiology suite, a dedicated cystoscopy room for urology procedures and a minor procedure room.
The CARTI Surgery Center is one of CARTI’s largest construction projects to date—second only to its flagship Little Rock campus. Head said it represents a significant investment in their patients and their future as the cancer treatment destination. He said the decision to build the CARTI Surgery Center was born out of their patients asking, ‘Why can’t I get my surgery done at CARTI?’ Head said the facility will allow many of their patients to continue their cancer journeys at CARTI without entering a hospital setting.
“We’ll have the most advanced surgical technologies at our fingertips, expanding the range of procedures we can provide our patients,” Head said. “From reduced costs to expedited recovery times, it will improve the patient experience and outcomes. The CARTI Surgery Center will offer procedures not yet available in other areas of the state, including prostate seed implants and prostate biopsy fusion.”
Prostate cancer is the leading type of cancer in Arkansas men, accounting for 22.2 percent of cancers in the state, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. But early detection and treatment are credited with the state’s five-year survival rate of 79 percent.
Head said it is CARTI’s goal for no one to go without access to treatment, which is why CARTI has radically expanded its presence and services over the past few years to meet patients where they are.
“The CARTI Surgery Center is yet another testament to our commitment to transforming how cancer care is delivered in Arkansas,” he said.
Lessons learned during the pandemic have been used to improve air quality and make the facility even safer for patients whose treatment might have suppressed their immune systems.
“Our operating rooms are equipped with the Steris CLEANSUITE System, which contains high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that reduce the recirculation of contaminants and microbial loads,” Head said. “This will help ensure the best air quality for our patients, minimizing their risk of surgical site infections.”
Advanced equipment and procedures include a combined CT scanner with fluoroscopy, combined radiofrequency for kyphoplasty procedures for spinal tumors and many other procedures for diagnosing and treating CARTI’s oncology patients.
“We’re also participating in unique research opportunities for the embolization of hypervascular tumors,” Head said.
Scott Stern, MD, CARTI’s chief medical director and head and neck oncologic surgeon, said having the most advanced surgical technologies will allow CARTI to continue expanding the range of surgical procedures it provides to patients.
“Research shows that patients benefit from a surgical setting that encourages mobility and safe recovery outside of a hospital setting, which is incredibly important to our vulnerable patient population,” Stern said. “We firmly believe this is the future of cancer surgery.”
The architects for CARTI Surgery Center are Cromwell Architects Engineers. At the facility’s topping-off ceremony, Dan Fowler, the president of Cromwell Architects, said that while what people could see at the time was steel and concrete, as an architect, he could see its potential and how beautiful it was already.
“It is a beacon on a hill, and that beacon says, ‘this is a place of hope and healing and comfort,’” Fowler said. “The building with expanses of glass and steel and composite panels will express the expertise and advanced technology and treatment that drives CARTI. And the interiors themselves are warm and welcoming, which will add to the hospitality feel, and that will be reassuring to patients and their families.”