Dream(s) Come True for Penn Medicine

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At the October groundbreaking for the new Center for Advanced Medicine Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, executive vice president of the health system and dean of the School of Medicine, called the $225 million facility “a dream come true” that represents a major leap forward in the quality of patient care, teaching, and research for Penn Medicine.

In his remarks Rubenstein also referred to the center’s signature architectural element, a dramatic glass-enclosed atrium, “which we hope some donor will fund.” That dream—and more—came true in late November when it was announced that Penn Medicine trustee Raymond Perelman WEv’40 and his wife, Ruth Perelman, had pledged $25 million to help finance construction and completion of the center, which will be named for them.

Following the announcement, Rubenstein called the gift “extraordinarily altruistic” and said that it would “create an environment that enhances the doctor-patient relationship and sets the stage for the development of the most advanced therapies that can be achieved through collaborative research initiatives.”

Construction is underway on the Center for Advanced Medicine, which will included a dramatic multi-story atrium.

Scheduled to open in 2008, the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine responds to the high demand for cancer and cardiovascular treatments and for outpatient care and surgery, which are expected to increase in the years ahead. Designed by renowned architect Rafael Vinoly and Perkins Eastman Architects, the 360,000-square-foot building will house the Abramson Cancer Center and the Department of Radiation Oncology, the Cardiovascular Center, and the Outpatient Surgical Pavilion in what the architect’s website calls “two interlocking L-shaped buildings,” surrounding the central atrium designed to provide maximum natural light to the interior.

The new building will centralize the Cancer Center’s facilities, currently located in both the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and in Penn Tower, and allow the center to group subspecialties together. This will both ease scheduling for patients and promote consultation and collaboration among the medical staff in treatment and research. Amenities such as an underground parking garage with direct access to the medical practices, waiting areas, food services, and patient library and education rooms were designed with patient comfort and convenience in mind.

At the groundbreaking Rubenstein called the building “awe-inspiring and world-class,” adding that it would provide a facility to match the “abundant talent and recognized national leadership” at the Abramson Cancer Center and in Penn Medicine’s “exceptional programs in cardiovascular medicine and surgery,” and so making it possible to do even more for patients. “They are our priority, and their care and satisfaction are our prime regards,” he said. “With this new building, I’m confident we’ll be able to meet and exceed their expectations for truly superlative patient-centered care.”

While advancing medicine, the new center “will also advance our boldest aspirations to redefine Penn as the eminent urban university,” declared Penn President Amy Gutmann. The center will transform the delivery of cancer and cardiovascular care and outpatient surgery in Philadelphia and the Northeast, she noted, adding that it would create hundreds of new jobs in West Philadelphia and benefit local businesses, many of them minority- and women-owned, as well as “bring luster and energy along the Schuylkill River, which is now in the early stages of a dramatic transformation.”

Penn Board of Trustees Chairman James S. Riepe W’65 WG’67 cited the “tremendous organizational progress made” in the four years since Penn Medicine was created in the wake of multimillion dollar losses in the health system [“Gazetteer,” January/February 2002] and praised Rubenstein and health system CEO Ralph Muller as “leaders who both literally and figuratively are changing the landscape of Penn.”

The new center, Riepe added, “is about great medicine and it’s about great ideals at a great institution to the benefit of a great city—and, I think, well beyond this city.” Referring to Benjamin Franklin’s impending 300th birthday, he said it was especially fitting that “we celebrate a project at the university that he founded that will allow us to pursue the mission of providing great service to the community in a powerful, powerful new way.” 


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