SPRINGFIELD – Blagojevich administration officials Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, and Capital Development Board Executive Director Jim Riemer today joined Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard and other dignitaries to dedicate the SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. The new $21.5 million, State-funded building will offer improved and expanded facilities for cancer treatment and research.
“The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute will address present and future cancer care needs and improve the standard of care in central and southern Illinois,” said Governor Rod R. Blagojevich. “The Institute’s community-based patient care, research, education and outreach program will provide enhanced treatment options and offer more hope to thousands of Illinoisans with various forms of cancer.”
The 63,000-square-foot SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute is named in honor of SimmonsCooper LLC, Attorneys at Law, based in East Alton and Chicago, Illinois, which donated $10.2 million toward several research projects at the institution.
“Our celebration of the completion this summer of the SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at SIU is shared with many, especially the State of Illinois, which began working with us on this project in 2000. Now, in return, we will be able be able to do even more to improve the health of central and southern Illinois," said SIU President Glenn Poshard.
The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute on Rutledge Street between Carpenter and Miller streets in Springfield will support a research laboratory; a center for outreach which will focus the institute’s efforts in central and southern Illinois; and, the consolidation of SIU School of Medicine’s multi-disciplinary clinics to include breast, head and neck, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers, gynecologic oncology, and the hematology/oncology clinic. It will have patient areas, such as rooms for support group meetings and a cancer learning resource center.
“As a prostate cancer survivor and a doctor, I know first-hand the prospects for surviving cancer are better than ever before, and continue to improve. The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute will build on those improvements with its research lab and education program,” said Dr. Arnold. “Early detection and improved treatments stemming from research are allowing more people who have been diagnosed with cancer to live longer, healthier lives.”
Construction of the Cancer Institute was overseen by the Capital Development Board (CDB), which manages all State-funded construction projects. The general contractor for the project was Evans Construction Company of Springfield. The plumbing contractor was Petersburg Plumbing and Heating; heating and ventilation contractor, Henson Robinson Company of Springfield; electrical contractor, Anderson Electric of Springfield; fire protection controls, Automatic Fire Protection of Normal; and temperature controls, Johnson Controls of Springfield.
The CDB project manager was Tim Patrick. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of August.
“The contractors on this project are to be commended for creating a beautiful, functional building to meet the Cancer Institute’s needs,” said CDB Executive Director Jim Riemer. “All members of our construction team worked hand in hand with SIU to create this life-saving and hope-giving facility.”
Cancer is a disease that is more common than many people believe. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four deaths in the United States is attributable to cancer. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Illinois and the United States, and the leading cause of death for Illinois citizens aged 45-64. Cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and kills more Illinoisans annually than AIDS, injuries and homicides combined. It is projected more than 61,600 people in Illinois will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and more than 25,300 will die from it.
Governor Blagojevich has championed the fight against cancer. The Governor recognized the importance of early detection and expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) on October 1, 2007 to make Illinois the first and only state to offer free breast and cervical cancer screening and low-cost treatment to all uninsured women in Illinois. The number of women who have been served and screened through the IBCCP continues to grow, thanks to Governor Blagojevich and the expansions he has made to the program in Illinois.