A $4.9 million expansion and renovation project is expected to enable the Cancer Center at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse to accommodate its more than doubling of cancer patients since the facility opened in 2004.
The project, to be announced Tuesday, will add 3,900 square feet, including nine exam rooms and nine treatment chairs to the center, which is on the lower level of the Center for Advanced Medicine and Surgery on West Avenue, Mayo-Franciscan officials said. It will include renovation of other areas to improve patient care, they said.
The center, which was treating 1,000 new cancer patients a year, now treats more than 2,000, said Dr. Paula Gill, a medical oncologist at Mayo-Franciscan who also specializes in hematology.
“It will increase our ability to see and treat patients sooner,” Gill said. “Now, they may have to wait for their first chemotherapy treatment — sometimes up to a week. We also sometimes have patients report to the hospital as overflow — an expense that isn’t an advantage to anyone.”
It also will allow more patients to be treated closer to home instead of sending some to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, she said.
At the same time, the project will integrate local care further with Rochester Mayo to provide comprehensive, consistent care throughout the Midwest, said Tanner Holst, Mayo-Franciscan’s vice president for medical specialties.
“With this renovation, we can better meet the needs of our current patients and be prepared for future growth,” Holst said. “Our goal is to allow patients to stay close to home and their support networks while receiving treatment.”
Several factors have contributed to the rise in the number of cancer patients, including increasing detection of more cancers as people age, Gill said.
“We treat patients longer because they are living longer, and we have improved care and treatments,” Gill said.
The most common cancers treated at the center are breast, lung, head, neck and prostate, she said.
“Treatments also are getting a lot more complicated,” said Dr. David Schwartz, a radiation oncologist, citing that as the third factor contributing to the need for the project.
The expansion and renovation will make it more convenient to accommodate patients’ psychological needs, frequently a major concern for cancer patients.
“It will be less of a burden,” Schwartz said.
The Cancer Center practice has grown from a staff of two medical oncologists and one radiation oncologist to four medical oncologists, two radiation oncologists and three associate providers.
Treatment extends beyond actual treatment to include support services such as dietetics, social work and palliative care that will be accommodated in the renovation part of the project, allowing such services to be under the same roof, Holst said.
Cancer is one of the five critical areas hospitals are addressing today, Tanner said, noting that the others are cardiology, orthopedics, gastrointestinal and neurosciences.
The addition will be on the south side of the CAMS building, which was built for $28.4 million in 2003 and 2004. It will be on the lower level, enveloping what now is a courtyard and adjoining land.
Construction, which is expected to begin in the spring, will be done in phases to avoid interrupting patient care. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2019.
MADISON — Children of any age may hunt in Wisconsin, after Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that eliminates the state's minimum age.
Walker quietly signed the Republican bill Saturday, exactly a week before the state's nine-day gun deer hunting was set to open. The law took effect Monday. Kids will have to wait five days before they can start shooting deer, but they can participate in several seasons already underway, including bow deer, pheasant, ruffed grouse, rabbit and squirrel.
A Wisconsin resident must be at least 12 years old to purchase a hunting license or hunt with a gun. However, until now children as young as 10 could participate in a mentored hunt. That program allows the child to hunt with a mentor who is at least 18 and has gone through a hunter safety course or had military training if younger than 44. The mentor and student could have only one gun between them, and they had to stay within arm's reach of one another. The new law allows children of any age to participate in a mentored hunt and allows mentor and student to each carry a weapon.
Thirty-four other states have no minimum hunting age. Several groups, including Whitetails Unlimited and the National Rifle Association, registered in favor of the Wisconsin bill. The proposal generated fierce opposition from minority Democrats and child safety advocates. Republicans pushed ahead anyway, saying parents should be allowed to decide whether their children are ready to kill an animal and that the measure will attract more children to hunting.
Rep. Joel Kleefisch, an avid hunter and chairman of the Assembly Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Committee, said Monday that he allowed his 11-year-old daughter to shoot a wild hog on a Michigan game preserve when she was 8. He proudly displayed a video of her squeezing the trigger and a photo of her standing next to the dead pig with her rifle.
"This bill will allow responsible hunters to get kids off the couch and off the electronics and into the woods," Kleefisch said. "There's nothing more exciting than seeing the look on someone's face when they harvest their first animal."
It's unclear how many children under 10 might take to the woods during the next few weeks. State Department of Natural Resources James Dick said he didn't have any data yet on how many mentored hunting licenses had been sold since the law took effect.
Whitetails Unlimited President Jeff Schinkten said he plans to buy his 9-year-old grandson a mentored hunt license, but he doubts many kids will take to the woods under the new law. Most people probably don't even know the law is in effect in time for the gun deer season, he said.
"(The season) will come and go before people realize it," Schinkten said. "(But the law change) will put some extra people in the woods and hopefully the people mentoring them will do their job and stay safe. I get it. It scares people that an 8-year-old or a 9-year-old has a high-powered rifle in his hands. But it's been done in other states."
George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said he doubted many children under 10 will take up arms and head out in search of a deer.
"It's new, right before the season," Meyer said. "People already have their hunting plans scheduled. But there will be some people, those who followed the bill."
The federation opposed the bill because of the provision allowing student and mentor to each carry a weapon. Meyer said a mentor engaged in hunting won't pay as much attention to the student.
Jeri Bonavia is executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, a group that works to end gun violence that registered against the bill. She said the law could create situations in which parents drive their children to the woods, help them out of their car seats, then hand them a rifle. She said that's not such an outlandish scenario because state law requires children as old as 7 and 8 to use car seats and booster seats.
"Giving a firearm to a child when they can't understand the consequences is just incredibly foolish," she said. "I honestly don't think there are a lot of Wisconsin moms and dads really pushing for this or desiring this, so I don't know if it will be a very common practice. I certainly hope not."
A 17-year-old stole a handgun and used the weapon during an attempted robbery Saturday night before he was accidentally shot by a juvenile, according to La Crosse police.
A man sitting in his car parked outside Vick’s Bar, 3749 Mormon Coulee Road, said a male approached the window with a bandana covering his face and demanded money at gunpoint about 9:25 p.m., according to the complaint filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court. The victim chased the subject before returning to the bar and calling police.
A handgun was reported stolen from a car parked nearby.
Police identified the suspect as Mackey Drake, who fled after the robbery to 3072 S. 23rd St., where a juvenile who thought the gun was fake shot him in the shoulder, the complaint stated. The juvenile also told investigators she witnessed Drake try to rob the driver.
Officers found Drake, who does not have a permanent address, about 11:30 p.m. at Subway, 3810 Mormon Coulee Road. He said he found the gun and brought it to 3072 S. 23rd St.
Drake admitted that he was involved in the robbery, but told investigators he used his cellphone to look like a firearm, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors charged Drake, who is on juvenile supervision, with attempted armed robbery with use of force and theft. He is jailed on a $10,000 cash bond.
Police investigated 18 guns calls so far this year, compared to seven calls Jan. 1 to Nov. 13, 2010.