Crews break ground on the Cowell Family Cancer Center

After years of fundraising, crews finally broke ground on the new Cowell Family Cancer Center Thursday afternoon.

The 45 million dollar Munson Medical Center facility will be three stories tall and about 86,000 square feet, and will be built alongside the restored Kids Creek in Traverse City.

"At a time when some healthcare organizations in northern Michigan are struggling, and there's absolute turmoil in the healthcare industry, we're seeing services go away in some areas," said Casey Cowell, a Munson Board Member - and the man who donated 5 million dollars for the facility. "So for us to actually literally be sticking a shovel in the ground and building an incredible new facility - it's great for all of northern Michigan."

Munson Medical Center staff members say the center is designed to meet the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of every patient. "The whole cancer center is set up to be encouraging, welcoming, and comforting - even to the point of the Infusion Center being right over here overlooking the creek," said Homer Nye, a Munson Trustee. "Maybe to somebody who hasn't been there that doesn't seem like a big deal, but if you've been there it means a lot to know that somebody has taken the time to make it right for you."

Munson Medical Center employees stress the importance of having all of the care in one place, saying it not only helps patients and families, but also doctors to work together as a team. It also cuts down on travel patients might have to do.

"This center will be special because of the Traverse City community. So that when you're here, it's just not another place put up by some unknown entity - it's ours. We made it happen," said Nye.

The cancer center is expected to be finished in 2016, and it's expected 20,000 patients will be treated there in the following ten years.