Cancer center donations move project closer to groundbreaking

MARSHALL – The Avera Marshall Foundation has accepted two more major donations and is closing in on its benchmark goal of funds needed for starting construction of the Avera Cancer Institute Marshall, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center said Tuesday.

Scott Williams with Bisbee Plumbing and Heating has pledged $25,000, and Doug and Peggy Anderson with Marshall Machine Shop have donated $10,000.

“We are very close to reaching our first benchmark goal,” Marty Seifert, executive director of the Avera Marshall Foundation, said. “We truly appreciate the support we’ve had from individuals and businesses who are helping us get close to being able to break ground on the cancer center project. “

Seifert said the campaign to reach groundbreaking is now within $30,000. The target number to reach groundbreaking is $11.35 million out of a total $12.95 million overall campaign.

“Obviously, the campaign will continue, but this at least gets us to building and getting the groundbreaking scheduled for October,” he said. “We hope people continue to step up to get us to groundbreaking and continue to contribute to help pay for furniture and equipment needs that aren’t in the groundbreaking phase.”

Avera Marshall has been working toward a goal of raising $5.45 million in time for a fall groundbreaking ceremony since February. Avera’s funding plan includes a $7 million (plus interest) gift from the city previously set aside after the sale of the medical center from the city of Marshall to the Avera health system. The $7 million was earmarked for oncology program development when the change of ownership occurred three years ago.

Seifert said money raised above and beyond the groundbreaking phase will go toward the center’s equipment fund. He said the hope is that that second phase gets wrapped up in 2014. Groundbreaking is planned for next month. The construction period would run for approximately 11 to 13 months.

The $12.95 million cancer institute would offer resources such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments for people in an eight-county area. The closest sites that currently offer radiation therapy are Willmar and Sioux Falls, S.D. The center will also provide surgery, pharmacy, dietitian consultation, home medical equipment, an on-site CT (Computed Topography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

The cancer center will be an addition to the existing medical center in Marshall. Seifert said more than 600 people in Lincoln and Lyon counties will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014. More than half of those cases would require radiation treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, southwest Minnesota leads the state in cancer mortality rates, and from 1975-2007, the region has the highest cervical center incidence rare and highest female breast cancer mortality rate in the state.