Lee Health cancer care will be closer to home

The Bonita Health Center will become a new Lee Health Regional Cancer Center.

The Bonita Health Center will become a new Lee Health Regional Cancer Center.

Thanks to generous donors, the Bonita Health Center, located in Estero, will be converted into a new Lee Health Regional Cancer Center to provide comprehensive, compassionate care closer to home for South Lee and Collier residents. No longer will patients receiving cancer treatments have to travel several days a week to the Regional Cancer Center in Fort Myers.

The entire first floor in the Bonita Health Center, 18,000 square feet, will undergo a $10.4 million construction project to provide a vital infusion center, a medical oncology clinic, and office space for surgical specialists, said Patti Chlipala, director of development for the Lee Health Foundation.

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation donated $1 million with an additional $1.5 million community matching grant. In recognition of this generosity, the facility will be named Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Cancer Clinic.

The project will go out to bid and as soon as the contractor is chosen, construction will begin.

Expanded cancer services will be able to provide 30,000 infusions and 12,000 visits to the clinic annually. The infusion center will have 32 infusion chairs and four private infusion rooms. The medical oncology clinic will have 12 patient exam rooms, a consultation room and laboratory, according to Lee Health.

Patients can get blood transfusions as well as other liquids they need in the infusion rooms. They need not be cancer patients, said Chlipala.

Nurse navigators will be provided who follow patients through their entire journeys. For example, when a patient is diagnosed as having breast cancer she will have a team: an oncologist, radiologist, surgeon, therapist.

“Now it’s a coordinated model. It’s wonderful,” said Chlipala. “The extra yoga, physical therapy, all the things they can add on to that are all provided through the center as well.”

Geneticists will also do an assessment built on the patient’s family history, so they can advise family members. Dietitians, spiritual support and prosthesis fitting will be provided.

Last year the Bonita Bay Club held its annual Kentucky Derby Gala virtually and generated $175,000 for the vital infusion center. This May 7, the club has a goal to raise $250,000. Its final target is $1 million to establish the “Bonita Bay Infusion Center.”

To contribute to the challenge grant, visit LeeHealthFoundation.org/ challenge-accepted.