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Huntsman Cancer Institute dedicates new hospital expansion

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah celebrated the opening of its hospital expansion, the Kathryn F. Kirk Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Women’s Cancers, in a dedication ceremony on Monday. Located on the north end of Huntsman Cancer Institute, the 220,000-square-foot building increases the cancer hospital’s inpatient capacity by nearly 50% and adds exam rooms, surgical suites, screening facilities and other services, allowing more patients in the Mountain West to receive world-class cancer care.

“Today, as we open this wonderful expansion, we recommit to providing the world’s best in compassionate, science-based care for our patients,” said Mary Beckerle, CEO of Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The building adds forty-eight inpatient rooms, a crucial need for the frequently over-capacity cancer hospital. “We often send patients to University Hospital, which provides great care, but our patients need to be here to receive specialized, cancer-specific care,” explained Don Milligan, executive director of the cancer hospital.

The Kathryn F. Kirk Center includes an entire floor dedicated to breast and gynecologic cancers, four operating rooms, a new blood and marrow cancer treatment space, and an oncology faculty workspace. The building adds more space for cancer screenings, including colonoscopy and mammography, and expands the square footage of Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Wellness and Integrative Health Center, which offers massage therapy, nutrition education, personalized fitness programs, and other services.

“We know that wellness is important for healing,” said Sachin Apte, chief medical officer at Huntsman Cancer Institute. “Cancer treatment takes a big toll on a patient physically, psychologically and emotionally. Our expanded wellness center can help with patients’ recovery in all these areas.”

Designed to be an aesthetic, healing environment, the Kathryn F. Kirk Center contains peaceful areas such as patios overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. The center also houses an extensive collection of American Indian art, including weavings, basketry, wearables, paintings, ceramics, jewelry, sculptures and carvings from artists representing more than 25 Indigenous Nations.

“I can’t tell you how powerful it is as a patient to see a new expansive and beautiful space created to help detect, heal and cure cancers,” said Rebecca Cressman, a breast cancer patient at Huntsman Cancer Institute and the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony. “It symbolizes a continuous commitment to provide the most advanced care in the world to all patients and, in particular, to women.”

Spencer Kirk, son of Kathryn F. Kirk, spoke about losing his mother to breast cancer and wanting to honor her legacy. “She spent her life in service to her family and her community,” he said. “That spirit guides our family, and we are honored to help further the mission of Huntsman Cancer Institute. The Kathryn F. Kirk Center is only possible because of a community of donors who joined our family to make this comprehensive cancer center a reality.”

Peter Huntsman, chairman and CEO of Huntsman Cancer Foundation, added his praise of Kathryn Kirk, whom he knew growing up.

“To Spencer and to the Kirk family, thank you for lending us the name of a great and saintly woman,” said Huntsman. “This building deserves her name and it deserves the name of every other woman in our society who has given hope, compassion, understanding, companionship, friendship, and made society better than it otherwise would be.”

The first outpatient visit at the Kathryn F. Kirk Center is scheduled to take place on June 5, with inpatient care beginning on June 21.