There are two things to know about that scary green building near Marian Medical Center: The Kermit the Frog color of the Mission Hope Cancer Center is only temporary, and the facility is on track to open by mid-January.

The 44,000-square-foot, three story building is covered by bright green Securock, a moisture- and mold-resistant sheeting, according to Alan Roinestad, general contractor for the project.

The fact that the sheeting has been installed shows how far the project has come, Roinestad said.

“We’re transitioning in from the structural, electrical and plumbing to the drywall and finishes,” he explained.

Subcontractors this week began building scaffolding around the building to wrap it in black lathe paper prior to application of the exterior finish coats.

The project is expected to hit several benchmarks over the next two months, including:

  • The massive heating, air conditioning and ventilation units will be hoisted to the roof and installed by Wednesday.
  • The building adjacent to the new center will be razed Sept. 12, and the space will be used to expand the parking lot.
  • The building will be covered in lathe sheeting and exterior finished will begin being applied Sept. 29.

Even though the exterior sheeting makes the center almost painful to look at, it won’t be long before it is finished.

Dr. Robert Dichmann, medical director of Marian Cancer Services who is the visionary for the center, can’t wait until Mission Hope Cancer Center is “Mission Accomplished.”

“The focus is to have one facility where they can have everything done,” Dichmann said of Central Coast cancer patients. “Treatment, support staff, support physicians are all in the building. Not everybody, but the vast majority of people working with cancer patients will be in this building.”

Dichmann and the administrators of Mission Hope took another step toward consolidating Santa Maria’s cancer services when they made arrangements to bring Coastal Radiation Oncology Group into the new center.

The company is one of the largest providers in radiation therapy in the state, with centers from Westlake to Salinas.

Bringing the group into Mission Hope has already allowed the center to upgrade its radiation treatment equipment.

“This is the Cadillac, the top of the line,” Katherine Guthrie, Catholic Healthcare West regional director for cancer services, said of the Clinac linear accelerator to be installed in one of the center’s two large cement encased vaults.

Dichmann said Mission Hope will be only the fifth treatment center in the state — and the first that is a non-teaching hospital—  with the equipment. He also said the facility will give Central Coast residents access to cancer treatment only previously available at either Stanford or UCLA medical centers.

“Our goal here in this building is to practice Stanford- and UCLA-like care,” he said.

The cancer program at Marian is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. It also offers clinical research trials through affiliation with UCLA’s Johnsson Cancer Center.

The Marian Cancer program treated 87 patients in clinical trials last year, and currently has approximately two dozen trials under way.

When the center is finished in mid-January and the new Marian Medical Center is dedicated in March, Santa Maria residents will have completely new health care centers.

“When we started planning for Marian Medical Center, we projected what the population would be for the Santa Maria Valley,” said hospital President Chuck Cova. “We projected it would be around 250,000 people. These facilities are really a result of the community and our population base.”

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