FLINT TWP. — Having a place to call home is “the perfect psychological therapy to go along with proton therapy,’’ said Ben Hugan of Grand Blanc, who was among several speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for a Hospitality House being built for McLaren’s new Proton Therapy Treatment Center.
Hugan has first-hand experience of living in a Hospitality House.
When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, his doctor recommended surgery. Instead, also against his doctor’s advice, Hugan decided to try an experimental treatment called proton therapy.
The closest proton therapy treatment center was in Bloomington, Indiana. Accompanied by his wife Jean, he went there and lived for eight weeks in its Hospitality House available for patients and their families.
“At first you think you want to be alone,” Hugan said. Instead he and his wife made wonderful friends including taking on an “adopted grandparent” role with children being treated for cancer.
“Believe me, any effort you can do to provide this facility is well worth it,” Hugan said of the support services provided by a hospitality house.
When completed, the 32,000 square-foot, $8 million facility will have 32 guests rooms and other amenities to make their stay homelike. It is being built next door to McLaren’s new state-of-the-art Proton Therapy Center, due to open in December.
A fundraising committee has raised about $3.3 million toward the cost of the Hospitality House, said Donald Kooy, president and CEO of McLaren, Flint.
“We need to have a world-class patient experience to go with world-class technology,’’ he said.
The Proton Therapy Center will be the only one of its kind in the world and expects to attract patients worldwide.
An estimated 110-120 patients per day will be treated at the center. About half of them will live more than two hours away from Flint and therefore need a place to stay while receiving the 6 to 8-week treatment.
Kooy said his greatest hope is that the Hospitality House will not be large enough to accommodate all the guests and will need to be expanded in the future.
The Hospitality House is being built by Sorenson-Gross Construction.