When Moffitt Cancer Center at Wesley Chapel formed a medical partnership with AdventHealth, the idea was to bring Moffitt’s brand of oncology services closer to its patients, said Dr. Timothy Kubal, the cancer center’s senior medical director.
“We’re coming to you, as opposed to you coming to us,” Kubal said, explaining that a lot of Moffitt’s patients were coming from Wesley Chapel, Trinity, Dade City or Land O’ Lakes.
“We wanted to get closer to the patient and Wesley Chapel was a great opportunity to do that with a partner,” he said, during Zoom economic development briefing with members of the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce on April 22.
As one of the nation’s top cancer centers, Moffitt wanted to deliver its expertise to patients, rather than them having to drive to its main campus in Tampa. At the same time, Moffitt wanted to partner with a high-quality hospital, he said.
“We can augment what they do; they can augment what we do,” he explained.
Moffitt’s center is located on the campus of AdventHealth Wesley Chapel, at 2600 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
AdventHealth Wesley Chapel has built an entirely new floor for oncology patients, with the long-term prospect of having up to 50 beds for oncology patients, Kubal said.
The center has 20 exam rooms, 22 infusion bays and a linear accelerator.
“I can treat probably 20 to 30 patients a day on this lin-ac (linear accelerator). It delivers radiation specified to a tumor site,” he said. “We can do any body part, from brain to toe, for radiation oncology out here.
The nice thing about being located closer to patients is that they won’t have to drive as far each day to receive the treatment, he said.
“For example, you live in Wesley Chapel, you’ve got a breast cancer. You need 20 treatments over four weeks. You can get it close to your house, as opposed to going into Moffitt, parking your car, getting set up, getting 3 seconds of radiation to hit that tumor, and then doing the hour back.
“We’ve seen a lot of patients want to transfer their radiation oncology care to this site because they live out in this area. So, this is a big draw. Right now, I think they are 1000% over projected volume.
“Their growth far exceeds what we initially thought,” he said.
The center’s 22 infusion bays are in an area that gives patients a chance to be able to see outside.
That’s important for patients because an infusion can sometimes take up to six hours, the doctor said.
The center will be able to handle infusion services for about 100 to 120 patients a day, he said. At the moment, though, those numbers stand at between 30 to 40 patients day.
In addition to its modern equipment, the center will offer a different oncology approach than what’s been available in the area, he said.
“In the cancer community, you either see everything, or you see one thing.
“So, in the Moffitt community, you might just do, for example, right-sided liver lesions. You might just do surgery on the right side of the liver, when there’s tumors there.
“In the community, commonly, you’re going to do everything.
“But what we’ve found is that it’s hard to do everything. People want to do more than one thing.
“So, what we’ve done here is we’ve hired multiple oncologists to do what we call multi-specialists.”
Besides attracting patients from Pasco and Hillsborough counties, the Wesley Chapel center has patients coming from Lakeland and The Villages, Kubal said.
People coming from Lakeland say that driving the back roads is quicker than going to Tampa, he said.
He added: “Those Villages people are willing to drive. They like to park their own car, though.”
At Moffitt’s main campus, in Tampa, patients must valet. At the Wesley Chapel center, they can do self-parking.
Besides liking to park their own cars, people coming from The Villages often have very specific plans for where they want to eat or shop, after finishing their appointment, Kubal said.
But, they aren’t the only ones having an economic impact on the area, the doctor said.
“The money I make, it goes back into the community,” he said.
“I need to eat. I need to go to the gym. I need to be able to have a meeting and grab a beer at the end of the day. My kids need schooling,” he said.
The same economic impacts are true for other staffers, too, because many of them move into Wesley Chapel after they’ve been hired.
Published April 28, 2021