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Outpatient growth drives Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center expansion in Commack

Rendering of a 37,275-square-foot, 2 story addition that

Rendering of a 37,275-square-foot, 2 story addition that Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center plans to add to their site in Commack. Credit: Architect Ewing Cole

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center plans to begin expansion of its Commack outpatient facility before year end to meet the increased need for cancer treatment on Long Island.

Officials from the Manhattan-based hospital expect to build a two-story, 37,275-square-foot addition on the north side of the building on Commack Road, hospital representatives said.

Margaret Burke, the cancer center's senior vice president of ambulatory care and hospital operation, said it has seen growth in annual visits from 17,500 a year in 2006 to nearly 31,500 by the end of this year, and projected 33,000 or more visits in 2015.

"We are going to continue to grow, and our existing facility is too small to accommodate that growth," Burke said of the hospital, which treats common cancers such as breast, lung, colon, head, prostate and neck.

To help meet the demand, Sloan-Kettering extended chemotherapy services this summer to 8 p.m. from 5 p.m.

"We had a valuable resource -- space that was sitting empty, and we had patients who still needed to be seen," Burke said.

Smithtown Town Board members voted unanimously, 5-0, this month to approve the center's site plan with conditions, including requirements for obtaining town building permits and gaining a certificate of occupancy.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said "having Sloan-Kettering in the Town of Smithtown is a matter of pride."

Vincent Pizzulli Jr., the hospital's attorney, commended the town's favorable decision on the application.

"Sloan-Kettering's treatment center is a landmark in Suffolk County, and the town has always been mindful of the fact that it's serving the residents," he said.

Plans for the roughly 11.18-acre site call for increasing parking spaces from 282 to 385, building a 773-square-foot storage addition and upgrading the hospital's sewage treatment facility to increase capacity, Pizzulli said.

The expansion would also house more office rooms for consultations, chemotherapy infusion bays -- chairs where patients receive treatment -- and a second MRI and second CT scan device, said Burke, adding that the center also plans to expand physical therapy services.

Smithtown does not receive taxes from the hospital because of its tax-exempt status, but the expansion will create about 40 permanent jobs when it is expected to open in fall 2016, Burke said. Officials expect construction to create 60 to 100 temporary jobs.

Though additions are not planned at the cancer center's two other Long Island locations in Hauppauge and Rockville Centre, Burke said Sloan-Kettering opened a second Westchester County site last month, and is slated to open its second site in Monmouth County, New Jersey in 2016.

Burke said Sloan-Kettering focuses on offering convenience to patients.

"If you're having radiation therapy, you're coming every day for five weeks," she said. "The more that we can accommodate patients closer to where they live, the better."

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