Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center announced plans Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, to build an approximately $118 million proton therapy center at its Liberty Campus in Butler County.
Photo: CONTRIBUTED
Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Hospital announces $160M expansion in Liberty Twp.

This newspaper previously reported in June that Cincinnati Children’s had plans in the works for a proton therapy center, and that it was considering either the hospital’s downtown or Butler County sites for the project.

On Tuesday, Cincinnati Children’s confirmed it will start construction by the end of this year on a more than 80,000-square-foot proton therapy and research center for cancer treatment in Butler County at the site of the hospital’s Liberty Campus. Cincinnati Children’s opened a standalone hospital in Liberty Twp. in 2008, which can be seen from Interstate 75, and is located off the Ohio 129 interchange.

Along with the hospital’s announcement to build a proton center in Liberty Twp., Cincinnati Children’s also said Tuesday it is planning an additional $44 million investment to add 28 new inpatient beds to the Liberty hospital for a total 40. Currently Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus has 12 inpatient beds.

To add the new beds, a fourth floor will be built onto the hospital. Construction starts on that portion in 2014.

“We have a lot of room at Liberty to expand our operations. We own land there that to this point hasn’t been used,” Cincinnati Children’s spokesman Terry Loftus said.

Cincinnati Children’s has more than 60 open acres of land in Liberty Twp. surrounding its hospital there.

“This decision to add beds enables Cincinnati Children’s to better serve and offer more convenience to families where they live. In addition, it will ease some of the pressure on our main campus, where patient volumes continue to grow year over year,” Loftus said.

The proton center, to be attached to the Liberty hospital, will take three years to build, hospital officials said.

Proton beam therapy is a radiation treatment delivering a greater, but more precise dosage to a tumor than traditional X-ray treatments. It minimizes damage to surrounding tissue, used to treat cancers of the brain, head, neck, eyes, prostate, lungs, early breast cancer and pediatric cancers.

“Proton therapy is an innovative form of radiation treatment for pediatric cancers. A major advantage of proton therapy over other forms of treatment is its ability to deliver highly-focused radiation therapy to a tumor with remarkable precision,” read a statement from Cincinnati Children’s. “This approach avoids radiation exposure to healthy surrounding tissue in patients, significantly reducing the risks for long-term complications, and potentially improving tumor control, which makes it particularly beneficial for the care of children.”

The facility to be built will house two proton treatment rooms for clinical use with the potential to add a third clinical room in the future. Cincinnati Children’s will own the facility and treat pediatric patients there, hospital officials said.

Loftus said Cincinnati Children’s is in discussions with UC Health for UC Health to lease one of the proton treatment rooms for adult therapy.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati Children’s plans to build a proton therapy center north of downtown Cincinnati in reach of the Dayton market could impact plans by Optivus Proton Therapy Inc. and Kettering Health Network to offer proton therapy.

Miami Twp. in Montgomery County took another step Tuesday to bringing a proton therapy cancer center first announced in 2009 to the Dayton area.

Township trustees Tuesday voted unanimously to retain Ross Sinclair and Associates, a full-service investment banking, securities brokerage and asset management firm, to handle bonds sold for development of a proton therapy center with California-based Optivus west of the Austin Boulevard interchange at Interstate 75.

“We’re hiring an underwriter to work specifically on that project,” Trustee Deborah Preston said after the meeting. “We’re getting our ducks in a row. That’s all I can say.”

In July, trustees voted to extend by one year the development agreement with Optivus on the project and to retain the Roetzel & Andress law firm as bond counsel.

Previously in 2011, Optivus officials said their plans for a Dayton-area proton center were on hold. Optivus was in talks to partner on the project with Premier Health, Dayton Physicians Network and Wright State University.

Optivus officials could not be reached for comment.

In 2010, Kettering Health Network also announced plans to open a proton center. As of the end of June, Kettering Health officials said the system was continuing to evaluate funding options for proton therapy.

Plans for Dayton proton centers won’t affect plans by Cincinnati Children’s.

“We are moving forward with our plans,” Loftus said.

There are 11 proton therapy centers currently in operation in the U.S. with at least 15 more in development, Cincinnati Children’s cited the National Proton Therapy Association as saying.

Staff Writer Larry Budd contributed to this report

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