H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute is hoping to entice a different demographic of patients with a new “destination center,” in addition to two new facilities opened in the last four years.
Moffitt’s Chief Operating Officer Jack Kolosky said last month Moffitt inquired about the potential availability of land owned by Tampa International Airport (TIA), and is currently awaiting information from the airport.
Kolosky said Moffitt might acquire the land to build a medical center for patients who are not necessarily Florida residents, but no plans have been finalized. Currently, 96 percent of Moffitt’s patients come from Florida, and the center could increase the number of out-of-state and international patients.
“This is just a gem of an idea,” Kolosky said. “This is not necessarily a plan for expansion that would include all the programs, the financing and all the rest. At this point in time, there is absolutely no programming or anything else associated with this idea.”
Over the past several years, Moffitt has undertaken several other expansion projects.
In 2008, Moffitt purchased a 25-acre parcel on North Malcolm McKinley Drive and built the $35 million M2Gen facility, which offers personalized cancer treatments for patients, as well as a database of cancerous tissue samples and genetic information, on about five of the acres. Kolosky said there is not enough funding at this time to develop the rest of the land.
“We did a master plan for that facility some years ago (on) space for clinical research and support areas,” Kolosky said. “That was 300-and-some million dollars worth of projects that we have no way to really finance.”
When its lease at Tampa General Hospital expired in 2011, Moffitt’s former satellite facility, Moffitt South, moved to a renovated, two-story, $22 million building in International Plaza. Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza functions as an extension of Moffitt’s main center at USF, according to moffitt.org.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Moffitt CEO Bill Dalton wrote to TIA CEO Joe Lopano that the airport site Moffitt is interested in is close to the new satellite at International Plaza.
Moffitt spokeswoman Michelle Foley said the center is experiencing steady growth.
The nonprofit’s reported overall revenue in 2010 was $700 million, which came from sources such as $9.6 million from the State University System, $5.5 million from cigarette taxes and additional funding from Medicaid reimbursements and state grants, according to the Tampa Tribune.
From 2009 to 2010, the main Moffitt center’s admissions for hospitalization increased from 7,742 to 8,616 and the number of outpatient visits, or short-term medical treatments, rose from 289,502 to 320,558, according to moffitt.org. As of May 31, 2011, the complete roster of employees at Moffitt and M2Gen amounted to 4,287.
The number of patients and staff increases each year by about 5 to 7 percent, Kolosky said.
TIA spokeswoman Janet Zink said the airport is in the process of creating a master plan for all of its buildings, land and real estate and will be finished by the end of this year. The airport is also looking at passenger projections and other aviation trends before deciding what to do with its extra properties, she said.
“Aviation comes first, so what needs to be used for aviation purposes (will take precedent over) what can be used for other purposes,” Zink said. “We wouldn’t be able to make a decision on the Moffitt expansion until we finish the master plan.”
If Moffitt leases or buys a tract of the land, it would need to go through a detailed examination and analysis by the airport and the Federal Aviation Administration first, Zink said.
Zink said Tampa residents, as well as tourists and others with local interests, can weigh in on the best use of the airport’s real estate at public meetings starting at the end of April.