On Monday, McLaren executive leadership and notable Lansing-area figures gathered at McLaren Greater Lansing and Michigan State University’s new health care campus at 2900 Collins Rd. to partake in a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
The event marked the beginning of the first stage of the campus’ opening, with the Karmanos Cancer Institute outpatient care center opening on Feb. 28. The hospital and emergency department will open on March 6, and the Health and Wellness Pavilion will open its doors later this spring.
McLaren Greater Lansing CEO Kirk Ray lamented on the long journey towards opening the campus in his opening speech.
“I stood out here a little over three years ago on a cold Dec. 17 morning when we broke ground on this facility, never thinking that this would come to fruition,” Ray said. “And all along, it’s kind of like watching your child grow. From the steel being placed to the last beam, to little mile markers along the way.”
The campus, which was announced in 2017, is a partnership between McLaren Greater Lansing and Michigan State University. It’s a consolidation of McLaren’s previous two healthcare facilities in Lansing on Greenlawn and Pennsylvania avenues. Those two campuses will close their doors and move their entire operations to the new MSU-adjacent park.
Approximately $600 million was invested into the project — about $200 million more than the original announcement had claimed. Those dollars translate into arguably the most well-equipped healthcare center in the Greater Lansing area.
Included in the seven-story facility are 240 hospital beds, a Level III trauma center, a certified primary stroke center, 17 operating rooms and a new cancer treatment center run by the Detroit-based Karmanos Cancer Institute.
MSU Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Norman Beauchamp emphasized the biggest impact of such a healthcare center is the ability to have in-community care for almost any health challenge. He credits his mother, who was a Lansing mental health worker, for the inspiration to provide such care.
“My mother was a community mental health worker here in Lansing, and when she would talk about her work, she would emphasize community,” Beauchamp said. “She would say that in people’s time of greatest need, being close to those you love, being supported, was so important to finding health.”
The cancer center, in particular, is a big addition to Greater Lansing’s healthcare infrastructure.
The 46,000 square foot connected building that houses it includes 25 exam rooms and 33 infusion bays. McLaren said it encompasses the latest technological advancements in radiation oncology, medical and surgical oncology and chemotherapy and infusion services.
Karmanos also put special emphasis on the aesthetic of the center, President Justin Klamerus said. He said this focus on a “healing environment” sets it apart from other cancer treatment options in the area.
“If you walk through the space, you’ll see the natural beauty of white, our green walls and spaces that come together,” Klamerus said. “What’s so critical, we know, to healing is not only great care from the doctors and nurses and specialists who bring that care together — but it’s the environment.”
This focus on a healing environment is not tethered to just the cancer center. McLaren and MSU created “design build teams” made up of various construction, architectural and design firms in order to capture such an aesthetic in each wing.
Hand-picked artwork and photos sport the walls throughout the building. White, blue and other calming colors make up much of the interior palette.
Outside of healthcare, the construction of the campus has provided a much-needed economic boost to the city of Lansing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 2,500 construction jobs were created during the building of the facility, and Lansing Mayor Andy Schor hopes the investment in South Lansing, in particular, will encourage more growth in the area.
“This health campus is not just awesome for all of the things that you’ve heard healthcare-wise, but it’s transforming an important part of our city,” Schor said. “McLaren came forward with an innovative plan that’s gonna be a catalyst for even more growth right here in southeast Lansing.”
While the campus was built through a partnership between McLaren, Karmanos and MSU, the university’s contributions were more clinical than monetary. Instead of being the primary funder of the project, it was in charge of recruiting top clinicians to come to the facility.
Many of these professionals currently are, or will be, MSU graduates. Beauchamp said the campus will be an incubator of sorts for students in medical-related degrees but will also give professional opportunities to students in seemingly unrelated programs.
“Whether it’s communication arts, engineering, supply chain, education, social work — the idea of the new strategic plan is, ‘How do we create pathways into careers and health for our students?’” Beauchamp said. “So by having a place so close, where they can come (and) they can do internships, for example, they can do volunteer work, I think will help us further clarify the many pathways into careers in health.”
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Research is another opportunity the new campus gives MSU. MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said the prospect of having a medical research facility in the university’s backyard brings in new avenues it didn’t have before.
“There are great opportunities for clinical research, and that’s an area where it’s been challenging for us in the past because we don’t own our own hospital,” Stanley said. “It’s a huge, huge deal for the citizens of Lansing in this region, the capital region, to have this take place. Because, really, anytime you bring a new facility, it attracts talent or human capital, and I think we’ll see that.”
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