Renderings of the planned Cancer Pavilion project by RWJBarnabas Health and the Rutgers Cancer Institute — Courtesy: RWJBarnabas/Rutgers/New Brunswick Development Corp.
By Joshua Burd
The state’s largest health system and Rutgers University have unveiled plans for a sweeping project in downtown New Brunswick — a $750 million, state-of-the-art cancer pavilion alongside one of New Jersey’s top-rated hospitals.
RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey joined other stakeholders on Monday to detail plans for the freestanding project, which they will build in partnership with New Brunswick Development Corp., or Devco. The new pavilion, which will be adjacent to the existing campus of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the cancer institute, will house key outpatient services, including those for chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Additional plans call for the facility to offer major diagnostic and inpatient cancer services, according to a news release. The space will also feature research laboratories, enabling physician-scientists to more rapidly translate scientific findings from laboratory bench to patient bedside, resulting in clinical assessment, feedback on clinical trials and collection of research data in a more rapid and direct fashion.
“The Cancer Pavilion will be a model for cancer care delivery on the East Coast, bringing together the three mission areas of academic medicine — research, education and patient care — all under one roof,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, CEO and president of RWJBarnabas Health.
Devco, the organization behind New Brunswick’s most high-profile projects in recent decades, will serve as the developer. Initial project costs are estimated to be $750 million, while the estimated schedule for completion spans 48 months.
The operators expect site work is to begin in summer 2020, although they are still identifying an exact location.
“The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas are already at the forefront of life-saving treatments for their patients because of their commitment to modern and evolving healthcare for all,” New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill said. “The realization of this new facility will allow for even more services, treatment and hope for those who seek the aid of these globally-renowned institutions in an epicenter of cutting-edge medical and research technology and innovation that will help shape a better tomorrow.”
The project will represent the latest step in a partnership between RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. The organizations say they’ve worked to provide advanced patient-centric, integrated cancer care close to home for residents throughout the state.
“This new state-of-the-art free-standing cancer pavilion featuring inpatient capacity coupled with research laboratories is a first of its kind in our state,” said Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Dr. Steven K. Libutti, who is also the senior vice president of oncology services at RWJBarnabas Health. “It is only fitting that it will encapsulate the wide-ranging oncology care services offered by Rutgers Cancer Institute, New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, in partnership with RWJBarnabas Health, New Jersey’s largest health system.
“By providing inpatient care in conjunction with world-class treatment and unique patient amenities all in one footprint, we are enhancing the level of care for the patients we serve in New Jersey and beyond.”
Gov. Phil Murphy hailed the project as a sign of strength for the state’s health care and research sectors.
“I have long argued that New Jersey, with its world-class history in health and life-sciences leadership, should occupy the center of the innovation economy,” Murphy said. “Since day one, RWJBarnabas Heath and Rutgers have been partners in those efforts, and the Cancer Pavilion serves as a key indicator of what we can accomplish together. I applaud the hospital network’s vision in announcing this project, and am proud to stand beside them.”
Dr. Brian L. Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for health affairs at Rutgers, added: “Together, RWJBarnabas Health and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey are committed to providing New Jersey cancer patients with the most advanced treatments available and the development of the new cancer pavilion in New Brunswick will ensure that those vital resources are easily accessible right here in our state.”