“Topping off” the Edward I. and Agnes B. Weisiger Cancer Center and John M. and Claudia W. Belk Heart and Vascular Institute

On Thursday, April 18, 2019, Novant Health celebrated the placement of the final steel beam atop its new Edward I. and Agnes B. Weisiger Cancer Center and John M. and Claudia W. Belk Heart and Vascular Institute. Vannoy Construction broke ground on Novant Health’s new seven-story, $165.9 million, 260,000-square-foot building in late 2018, which is located on the corner of Hawthorne Lane and Fourth Street. 

Topping-off ceremonies — the act of placing the last piece of steel on a building — are an age-old tradition in building construction. They are a moment to celebrate and acknowledge that the project is moving toward completion. 

Saad Ehtisham, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center’s new president, addressed the assembled crowd and shared the importance of Novant Health’s newest facility in attacking resident’s greatest health risks. 

“Two of the major leading causes of death in North Carolina and United States are cancer and heart disease,” said Dr. Ehtisham. “What’s remarkable about this building is it is designed with a healing environment in mind, as well as a holistic approach to bringing modalities between cancer and heart disease under one roof and using research as a conduit to bring the newest trials to our patients in the community.” 

The first floor of the Heart and Vascular Institute houses radiation oncology, a retail pharmacy and café, and the second floor is home to adult cardiology, cardiac and vascular, heart failure and electrophysiology. Rehabilitation is located on the third floor; gastrointestinal, urinary, and head and neck modalities on the fourth floor; breast, high risk, gynecology oncology and integrative medicine on the fifth floor; hematology, thoracic, therapeutic neurology and research on the sixth floor; and an 80-bay infusion center overlooking Charlotte’s sklyine will be located on the seventh floor. An impressive skybridge will connect the new facility to the adjacent Presbyterian Medical Tower and the Presbyterian Medical Center, providing medical staff and patients with direct access to essential resources. 

At the ceremony, Gary Niess, MD, senior vice president of the Heart and Vascular Institute, noted the inherent advantages of offering heart and cancer care in the same building. “We, not long ago, put a pedometer on one of our staff members and had that person follow a patient from one testing site, to the next testing site, to the next to get a valve replacement,” Dr. Niess explained. “They traveled with [the patient] to registration, and then on to one doctor’s office and on to get some testing, and then on to another place where they saw another doctor. The total steps for that patient that day were 7,500 steps.”

“And remember, he said, “the healthy Fitbits tell you to walk 10,000 steps a day. These are people who are so sick they need their heart valve replaced, and their journey was 7,000 steps. Now, they’re not going to have to take 7,000 steps.” 

Another highlight of the new facility will be its integrative medicine services, a patient-centered type of holistic cancer care that addresses the physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental needs of our patients during their cancer journey. 

Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation kicked off its groundbreaking campaign in 2011, raising nearly $30 million in philanthropy. “We would not be standing atop this beautiful building without the support of John and Claudia Belk, Agnes and Ed Weisiger, Tan, Sarla and Raj Ganatra, Bank of America, Sherry Pollex and Martin Truex, Jim and Beverly Hance, the Alex Hemby Foundation, the Philip Van Every Foundation, the Blumenthal Foundation and countless other wonderful businesses, foundations, and people throughout Greater Charlotte,” Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation’s chief development officer, Jennifer Clifford, explained. “Charlotte’s support of this project is a testament to their commitment to improving our city’s heart, vascular and cancer care, while also demonstrating their collective belief in Novant Health’s broader mission of improving the health of the communities it serves, one patient at a time.”