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Open house Tuesday for new cancer center

The Joe Lueken Cancer Center will officially open its doors Monday, Sept. 10. (Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota photo)

BEMIDJI—Ahead of the Joe Lueken Cancer Center opening on Sept. 10, Sanford Health is holding an open house Tuesday to help the community become acquainted with the latest medical facility in Bemidji.

From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the new center, attached to Sanford Bemidji Main Clinic, will have an open house and conduct tours. According to a press release from Sanford, the new facility is bringing all of the company's cancer services under one roof for a better continuity of care.

The open house event marks the end of a construction period that started in June 2017. The $12 million, 20,500 square-foot building is named in honor of Joe Luken, the late owner of the Bemidji grocery store chain. Lueken died in 2014 at the age of 72 after a battle with cancer.

According to the press release, the Joseph and Janice Lueken Family Foundation gave a significant lead gift to the Care Without Limits campaign to expand and centralize cancer care and honor Lueken's legacy.

"My husband was tireless in his efforts to enhance the quality of life in this region," said Janice Lueken in a release. "He was the son of a small-town baker who grew up to be a successful businessman and philanthropist. But he was also a 30-year cancer survivor and lived with Parkinson's for 20 years. Through it all it was his positivity, spirituality and determination that were a testament to his character. Joe was truly an inspiration to us and all who knew him."

The new center includes 20 infusion suites, 15 exam rooms, on-site infusion pharmacy and lab services. Additionally, a boutique, bistro, garden and other patient amenities are on site at the center. There also is conference room space for meetings and education, as well as a meditation room overlooking a flower garden.

The center also brings together services for radiation, medical oncology, palliative care, patient navigation, financial counseling, social services, genetic counseling and survivorship. Patients also will have access to the latest in clinical trials in cancer research. Some of the other features of the cancer center are an outdoor patio and an indoor fireplace lounge where patients can also receive infusion treatment.

Every year more than 500 people are diagnosed with cancer in the Bemidji area, the release said.

"For years Bemidji had limited cancer care available, and patients had to travel long distances to receive life saving treatment" said Bryan Nermoe, president of Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota. "This is particularly difficult when you consider how often and how long cancer patients are cared for. This new center ensures that people can receive the care they need close to home."