Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford has launched a $5 million fundraising campaign to expand its cancer and blood-disorder treatment clinic in order to serve its increasing patient volume.
When it opened in 1996, the hospital was devoted solely to treating children under age 18 with cancer, said pediatric oncologist J. Nathan Hagstrom, who was on hand last week for the announcement of the center’s “A Brighter Hope’’ building campaign.
By 1999, the treatment center at 282 Washington St., in the shadow of Hartford’s Learning Corridor, was recording approximately 5,000 patient visits annually.
But last year, the hospital’s visits climbed to 10,000, nearly double the volume of a decade earlier and up 8 percent in one year, said Hagstrom, who directs the center’s hematology/oncology division.
“We’re getting more patients referred to us,’’ said Hagstrom, who has spent all of his 12 years as a practicing physician at Connecticut Children’s.
The reason is that fewer oncologists are treating patients younger than 18, he said. Also, more families are choosing to seek treatment at a facility closer to home, rather than travel to the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, or to Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, all of which offer pediatric cancer care.
Connecticut Children’s also has expanded into treating blood disorders, such as hemophilia and sickle cell anemia.
Along with those coming for treatment, there are, Hagstrom said, a growing number of youth cancer survivors who require continuous follow-up and treatment.
At any time, the center treats more than 100 cancer patients, plus provides periodic checkups for another 300 cancer survivors, Hagstrom said. It has more than 170 sickle-cell patients and 100 bleeding-disorder patients.
With the expansion, the new Clinical Care Center would occupy more room on the
hospital’s fifth floor, doubling its space to about 8,000 square feet.
There, with new technology to identify and treat child ailments, the center also plans to embrace a treatment regimen that involves a partnership between physician, patient and the patient’s family, Hagstrom says.
This approach, Hagstrom said, could become a model for 21st-century medicine.
“We’re going to be impacting a generation of patients who are going to live another 50, 60, 80 years,’’ he said.