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Frederick Regional Health System's New Cancer Institute to Provide Optimal Healing Environment for Patients


In preparation for the opening of the new James M Stockman Cancer Institute this summer, Frederick Regional Health System (FRHS) has teamed up with Thought Leadership and Innovation (TLI) Foundation and Enviah to create a cancer institute where all elements—internal, interpersonal, behavioral, and external—facilitate the innate healing process.

“A healing environment is more than a beautifully designed, aesthetically pleasing space,” says Bonnie Sakallaris, PhD, RN, vice president of Optimal Healing Environments, TLI Foundation. “Optimal healing environments help to facilitate relationships, and evoke a feeling of peace and serenity. When you walk in, you know you’re in a safe place where healing can occur.”

FRHS, TLI Foundation, and Enviah are working to gain a deeper understanding of the new cancer care environment and processes, and how they impact the patient experience. They’re perfecting practices that are more patient-centered and integrated, and making those changes and practicing in the current cancer center so they’re ready to be implemented when the new center opens.

Together, they’ve run through a number of tabletop exercises, where the teams practice their internal processes against the blue prints for the new cancer center to identify issues and refine their practices.

With one exercise, the team discovered that nurses in the infusion center would have to walk through a long corridor then through another door to delivery blood samples to the lab. But, if they built a window in the wall between the two locations, they could significantly reduce the amount of time and steps wasted.

According to Sakallaris, research shows that healthcare organizations can renovate or build a new space using all evidence-based design practices, but if they don’t transform their practices—from the way staff operates internally to how they care for patients—then they’ll only receive a temporary improvement in patient satisfaction when they move in to the new location.

“It quickly goes back down to baseline because you haven’t changed the way you practice or learned how to use the space the way it was intended,” she says.

“While a new cancer institute for our community is exciting and necessary, a cancer program is more than a building—it’s people, expertise, and technology,” says Dr. Patrick Mansky, FRHS medical oncology director and MD Anderson Cancer Network certified physician. “The new space will allow us to offer coordinated, patient-centered treatment, integrative care, and enhanced complimentary therapies.”

Through these exercises, FRHS is learning new ways of interacting with patients and with one another, as well as different aspects of care and operations (i.e., how patients check in and check out, how medical assistants interact with patients, integrated and holistic care offerings, etc.) The exercises are not only increasing engagement of staff in embracing the cancer care that FRHS provides—they’re also bringing staff together and empowering them as cancer caregivers.

The James M Stockman Cancer Institute will open to the public this summer. To learn more about FRHS or the James M Stockman Cancer Institute, visit

Categories: Working at FMH, Cancer