A game-changer for health care in Fairfax County: Inova dedicates its Schar Cancer Institute in Merrifield

Cancer can strike anyone. Today, Inova Health System is striking back with the dedication of its $150 million Inova Schar Cancer Institute at the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Merrifield.

Among the dignitaries scheduled to speak are U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vermont) and his wife Marcelle, both of whom have been treated for skin cancer, political commentator Cokie Roberts, a cancer survivor, and master of ceremonies Lara Hopewell, a local hockey mom-turned-crusader for cancer research funding.

The Inova Schar Cancer Institute, a $150 million undertaking in Merrifield, is being dedicated today. (Photo, Inova Health System)

Also scheduled to join hospital officials are Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, U.S. Congressman Gerald Connolly (11th District, Virginia) and members of the Dwight Schar family.

Schar is the founder of Reston-based homebuilder NVR, a Fortune 500 company. His family’s contribution is the largest single donation Inova has received and spurred a campaign to recruit leading physicians and scientists to the center, helping turn a vision into reality.

That vision included the creation of a one-stop center for cancer patients, putting teams of physicians, surgeons, researchers, counselors and other caregivers under one roof.

“It’s going to be game-changing to have world-class care centered in one place,” said Dr. John Deeken, acting president of Inova Schar. “We specifically designed the building to allow our teams to practice medicine effectively together, giving patients a treatment experience that reduces stress and lets them concentrate their energy on getting better.

“Nobody in Northern Virginia should think they need to go to Houston, New York or Baltimore to get world-class cancer care,” Deeken said. “We have it right here.”

Catherine W. Riley, interim president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, echoed that sentiment and the value of having top-tier cancer care in the region.

“The Schar Cancer Center raises the already-high level of health-care facilities in Fairfax County, and as part of the Inova Center for Personalized Health it can make Fairfax County and Northern Virginia a destination for world-class research and clinical work,” Riley said.

A lobby look (Photo, Source One Flooring)

The Inova Schar Cancer Institute is scheduled to open to patients on May 13 and its opening comes a bit more than a year into the tenure of Dr. Stephen Jones, Inova president and CEO who succeeded longtime Inova chief Knox Singleton.

“As a surgical oncologist, I am thrilled to take part in the opening of this new center for cancer care, which reaffirms Inova’s long tradition of bringing the latest research, innovation and clinical trials to patients in Northern Virginia,” Jones said.

“Inova Schar is an exciting and integral part of Inova, helping to realize our vision to be among the leading health systems in the nation. With the evolving needs of the growing D.C. Metro area, we believe residents deserve top-quality cancer care right here in Northern Virginia, provided by leading specialists and grounded in the latest research, innovations and clinical trials.”

Jones says that Inova’s multi-disciplinary, coordinated model puts patient needs first, enabling them to see their entire care team in one visit in a single location. Beyond convenience, the approach is designed to improve communication among team members.

“Simply put,” Jones added, “Inova Schar is the best of both worlds, borrowing from both academic medical centers and community-oriented health systems to make a commitment to each and every patient’s well-being, backed by the latest research and advancements in treatment. Every aspect of the new Inova Schar facility, which is a satellite campus of Inova Fairfax Hospital, has been designed with the patient experience in mind.”

Inner workings of the new Inova Schar Cancer Institute (Photo, Clark Construction)

The new facility occupies more than 428,000 square feet on the 117-acre site, formerly home to Exxon Mobil’s campus. Clark Construction said it renovated 264,000 square feet of existing space to include medical offices, clinical and research space. The company also constructed a new entry pavilion and a 78,000 square-foot addition to accommodate five linear-accelerator vaults, imagery and nuclear medical suites as well as a breast-cancer clinic.

The facility features 124 exam rooms, chemotherapy infusion rooms with 54 chairs on the upper floors that offer natural lighting, and water features to create a relaxing environment.

Services will include advanced radiation oncology, chemotherapy infusions, cancer surgery, clinical trials, nutrition services, genetic counseling, patient coordinators, massage and therapy services, pharmacy, financial counselors, and support through the Life With Cancer Program. Inova Schar is hopes to begin offering proton beam therapy in 2020.

According to the Washington Business Journal, about 500 employees will work on-site, including 55 Inova-employed doctors and advanced practice providers, the majority of the system’s radiation oncologists and community physicians across specialties.

Inova is Fairfax County’s largest private employer with more than 18,000 team members across Northern Virginia that serve more than 2 million individuals through its network of hospitals, primary and specialty care practices, emergency and urgent care centers, outpatient services and destination institutes.

Click here to see the Washington Business Journal’s sneak peek at the new Inova Schar Cancer Institute with photo gallery by Joanne S. Lawton.

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