Published on July 29, 2022

A New Era for Cancer Care

Enloe caregivers standing in front of sign

Enloe Medical Center has been at the forefront of cancer care since the late 1960s, consistently bringing leading-edge treatments to the North State. Staying true to its vision of being the first choice for health care, for the past three and a half years, Enloe has embarked on an exciting journey to strategize and develop a new comprehensive cancer center in Chico.

Planned on 13 acres of ready-to-build land on the corner of Bruce Road and 20th Street in Meriam Park, generously provided by developers Dan and Dawn Gonzales, construction of the new facility should begin in late 2023.

This expansion has been identified as a critical need in the region. Every three years, Enloe conducts a community health needs assessment. The purpose of this evaluation is to identify the barriers to health impacting our community and the resources available to address them.

“The most recent report revealed that Enloe’s service area has a higher incidence of both newly diagnosed cancers and cancer-related deaths than other areas of the state.”

The most recent report revealed that Enloe’s service area has a higher incidence of both newly diagnosed cancers and cancer-related deaths than other areas of the state. In fact, Glenn, Shasta, Tehama and Butte are the top four counties in the state for cancer incidence, with over 470 cases each per 100,000 people, according to the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Enloe’s Director of Cancer Services, Ehren Hawkins, said a lot has already been done to bolster and maximize the hospital’s cancer services. But space is running out. “We have had to get very creative in the use of available space in order to accommodate the patient demand,” Hawkins said.

Increasing Capacity for Care

Enloe’s Regional Cancer Center was acquired Jan. 1, 2002, offering hematology and radiation oncology with seven physicians and their support staff. Today, it has 21 providers along with approximately 150 caregivers as support staff.

The new 100,000-square-foot Comprehensive Cancer Center will be designed to accommodate more patients, providers and staff, significantly increasing the capacity to care for the community.

“We are designing a cancer center that will be able to care for over 2,000 new cases per year. And looking into the future, (we are) projecting what the cancer incidence rates are going to look like, what the population will look like, and making sure we are preparing for what that demand could be,” Hawkins said. “In this way, we design a building that has capacity for not just the year it opens, but well into the future.”

Along with more space and more staff comes new services. Some of the subspecialties that the new center will pursue are gynecology oncology and thoracic oncology, melanoma and brachytherapy, to name a few. That’s in addition to expanded diagnostic efforts like screenings to catch cancer at earlier stages, education for the community, supportive therapies and emotional supportive care — not only for patients, but for their loved ones as well.

“We design a building that has capacity for not just the year it opens, but well into the future.”

We want to be able to provide comprehensive cancer care here for Northern California. So patients in Butte, Glenn, Tehama counties, and even the neighboring counties to the north and the south, don’t have to go elsewhere if they don’t want to,” Hawkins said. “We want to provide another alternative where they can get world-class, truly comprehensive care from diagnosis through survivorship, close to home.”

With estimated construction costs ranging from $100-120 million, the new facility is projected to begin operations as early as the spring of 2026.