by Sue Wyninegar
City of Hope employees learned about important improvements in health insurance benefits and parking – as well as the organization’s continued success – at City Forum on May 2. President and Chief Executive Officer Michael A. Friedman, M.D., delivered his good news about the first six months of fiscal year 2006 to a standing-room-only audience in Cooper Auditorium.
Friedman began City Forum, a periodic talk with City of Hope staff, by highlighting recent faculty honors. The announcement that Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., had been elected to the National Academy of Sciences brought enthusiastic applause. He also noted that Smita Bhatia, M.D., and Ravi Bhatia, M.D., were elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, “an expression of the life, excitement and quality in our next generation of scientists.”
Friedman also described two recently endowed chairs, the Ruth B. and Robert K. Lanman Chair in Gene Regulation and Drug Discovery held by Barry Forman, M.D., and the Pauline and Martin Collins Family Chair in Urology held by Timothy Wilson, M.D.
Friedman noted several organizational highlights, including the bone marrow transplant program’s 30th anniversary. The program recently received a five-year, $15.2 million National Cancer Institute grant, marking its 24th consecutive year of federal funding. In addition, Theodore Krontiris, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical and scientific affairs, is heading efforts to update the strategic plan and determine the best course for future growth. “The organization has never been in such an exciting and fertile growth period,” said Friedman.
He also reported good news about City of Hope’s financial health. Net patient revenue and income and net fundraising revenue exceeded expectations for the first half of the fiscal year. Overall, $66.8 million has been raised so far this year in major gifts and bequests, some of which has not yet been booked. “We’ve never had a year like this before in fundraising – ever,” Friedman said.
Friedman reviewed projects under way as part of the master plan. The Baxter/Flower building will be ready for occupancy by summer, and a five-phase project for radiation therapy is in progress, with installation of a second TomoTherapy machine nearly complete. Wing 6 of the main medical building will be ready for patient occupancy in late June, as well.
Architectural work and fundraising continue for the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology. Site preparation begins in late fall, with building completion expected in August 2008. Plans for the Transfusion Medicine project, a three-story, 56,000-square-foot building, have been submitted to Irwindale for approval, and groundbreaking is projected for early 2007.
In October, a Population Sciences modular building will provide space for about 150 employees who are involved in studying cancer etiology and outcomes and related research.
Addressing concerns raised at the previous City Forum, Friedman announced an increase in parking spaces. Through more efficient use of space, 363 new parking spaces will be added by fall. Environmental impact negotiations are under way to lease adjacent land for 300 additional spaces.
Friedman also announced that City of Hope will reduce the amount that employees contribute to medical insurance plans by approximately $1.3 million per year. A mid-year open enrollment will occur in July and new rates will go into effect in late summer (holding steady through 2007). Employee contributions with dependents will be reduced, although the “employee-only” contribution will increase slightly. The new plan encourages employees to expand existing coverage by electing dependent coverage at lower costs than before. The greatest savings (more than $140 per month) will be seen in the POS/PPO plan.
Following his update, Friedman and other executives answered questions from the audience. He indicated that an employee daycare center is a high priority and leaders are evaluating options for creating one. They will also follow up on questions about transportation from nearby Metrolink stations as well as additional tram service and lighting for campus parking areas.
Friedman also introduced the audience to City of Hope’s newest executives: Virginia Opipare, executive vice president and chief operating officer; Dave Carter, vice president, administration, development; Ken Mintzer, vice president, development; and Steven Hartranft, vice president, quality and patient safety.