Groundbreaking Held for Children’s Cancer Clinic
Leaders and physicians from UHealth-University of Miami Health System have broken ground on the Alexander Daly Family Clinic for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, the first pediatric oncology clinic at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The clinic, which is made possible by a $2 million gift from businessman, engineer, and philanthropist Alexander Daly, will be adjacent to Sylvester and is dedicated to providing leading-edge cancer treatment and care for children in a comfortable, technologically advanced, child-friendly environment.
“If there is one area we want to focus on at UHealth and the Miller School of Medicine, it’s children,” Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., said at the ground-breaking ceremony. “It gives me goose bumps to know what is going on here in terms of research, care, and treatment, and this clinic marks a huge step in the history of health care for children, furthering our position as a world-class center for healing and care—and hope for future generations.”
No one knows better than 16-year-old Leighanie Diaz the importance of an oncology facility dedicated just to children. “This new clinic will make such a difference to kids going through what I’m going through,” said Leighanie, who was diagnosed just over a year ago with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer found most often in children.
“The doctors, nurses, and staff have been awesome,” she said, “but the hospital environment isn’t really the best for sick kids. When you’re going through something so negative and scary, a happier kind of place can make a big difference.”
A cancer survivor himself, Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., professor and chairman of pediatrics, calls childhood cancer a lifetime diagnosis. “It is critical,” Lipshultz said, “to have great researchers and doctors, but when you’re looking for hope, you’ve got to have a good environment for treatment and recovery.”
With only three more treatments to go, Leighanie won’t be able to take advantage of the new facility herself, but she wanted to show her gratitude. “It was important to me to be here to show my appreciation and support to the doctors and staff who have supported me this past year—and to Mr. Daly for his generosity,” she said.
As a father, Daly was motivated by his need to make a difference in the lives of children. “It’s so easy to write a check and be done with it, but I want to make sure this is more,” he said. As a businessman and engineer, he was also interested in seeing a focus on technology and innovation in the clinic that will bear his name.
“This facility will not just allow us to do well what everyone else does well, it will allow us to innovate—with a team of dedicated doctors, nurses, and staff,” said Julio C. Barredo, M.D., director of children’s cancer programs at Sylvester.
The space is being designed to handle patient visits more efficiently, providing areas for infusions and transfusions that are both private and age appropriate. The clinic will also be multi-disciplinary to allow children to be seen by their oncologist and by doctors in other specialties participating in their care.
“With the first and only Pediatric Phase I clinical trials program in South Florida, UHealth and the Sylvester Center already lead the way in the study and treatment of childhood cancer,” said Joseph D. Rosenblatt, M.D., interim director of the Sylvester Cancer Center. “With this new clinic, we will transform pediatric oncology completely at this institution.”
Establishing a pediatric oncology clinic on the Miller School of Medicine campus has been a long time coming, said W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., chief medical officer of the Sylvester Cancer Center. “Harcourt Sylvester, for whom the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center was named, was never completely pleased that we didn’t have a dedicated facility for children,” said Goodwin.
“He would be happy now.”