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In less than two years, cancer patients in York County will have a state-of-the-art treatment facility in their own backyard.

WellSpan Health held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, Aug. 27, in the parking lot of the WellSpan York Cancer Center at the Apple Hill Medical Center in York Township.

The cancer center will undergo a 67,000-square-foot expansion and is expected to open in early 2021. The cost will be about $45 million.

"When that time comes, we will be able to surround our patients with all the services they need in a seamless and very healing environment," said Dr. Douglas Arbittier, vice president of oncology and surgery for WellSpan Health.

The company announced the expansion in January.

After brief remarks from Roxanna Gapstur, president and CEO of WellSpan Health, as well as three physicians who specialize in cancer treatment, Gapstur and the physicians joined local politicians standing in a row with gold-colored shovels.

They each scooped a small pile of dirt and smiled for the camera — and with that, the project officially commenced.

State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, said she's thrilled about the expansion.

"So often, you hear that people who are struggling, fighting that battle with cancer, need to have treatment in other places," she said.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, said patients often have to travel to Philadelphia, Baltimore or Hershey for their cancer care.

"When you're sick, when you're ailing, the last thing you need is another burden of having to travel 50 or 60 miles to receive what oftentimes is a very regular treatment," Perry said. "There's no reason we shouldn't have the most advanced care and treatment right here, and this shows a commitment from WellSpan to provide that."

Also there were York County Commissioner Doug Hoke, supervisors from York Township and members of staff from the offices of Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and state Rep. Mike Jones, R-Dallastown.

About 100 people attended.

More: WellSpan announces $45 million expansion at York cancer treatment center

More: Exam room to be dedicated to Ann Ramage, WellSpan doctor killed in crash

New technology: On the medical side, the new center will have the latest technology in radiation oncology and outpatient chemotherapy infusion, as well as clinical trials.

Patients undergoing chemotherapy will have the option to sit either privately or with a group, and the facility will have large glass walls to provide panoramic views of the outside.

And there will be support services to help patients through their diagnosis and treatment, such as a meditation and quiet room, an appearance center and boutique, and holistic treatments including yoga and massage therapy.

Dietitians and social workers will be on hand.

Patients can also pick up their chemotherapy prescriptions at the new infusion pharmacy that will be on site, and the conference space will allow patients and their families to attend support groups or participate in therapeutic activities such as music and painting, while the cafe will serve up cups of coffee.

"We designed the cancer center to treat the whole person through the whole journey, from cancer diagnosis through treatment, all in one place," Gapstur said.

CannonDesign, a national firm with offices across the country, designed the building, and Alexander Building Construction Co., based in central Pennsylvania, is the general contractor.

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