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USC breaks ground on Norris Healthcare Consultation Center

by Amy Hamaker
USC President C. L. Max Nikias, Harlyne J. Norris, Lisa Hansen and Thomas E. Jackiewicz (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)
USC President C. L. Max Nikias, Harlyne J. Norris, Lisa Hansen and Thomas E. Jackiewicz (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)

It’s been five years since Barbara Kral was first diagnosed with advanced myeloid leukemia. Though she is in remission, she continues to receive treatment every four weeks at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Thanks to a lead gift by the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation for construction of the Norris Healthcare Consultation Center, patients like Kral will soon have even more options for personalized, compassionate care.

“I’ve learned on my journey that when a person is facing cancer, the experience and capability of the facility and its staff are of prime importance and next is the manner in which the patient is treated on a personal basis,” said Kral to an audience of donors, administrators and physicians at a groundbreaking ceremony held on May 2. “The loving care I receive at Norris is an extremely important part of my overall treatment.”

During the ceremony, Thomas E. Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO for USC Health, described the facility, which will include multidisciplinary clinics designed to facilitate interaction among teams, infusion therapy, an ambulatory surgery center and a women’s cancer program. The center will also feature patient- and family-centered amenities, such as a retail pharmacy and comfortable patient and family waiting areas.

“This new facility will be a model for ambulatory care in the future,” Jackiewicz said. “Today we celebrate one more opportunity to truly excel in our mission of quality health care that is personalized, compassionate and innovative.”

USC President C. L. Max Nikias thanked the members of the Norris family and Norris Foundation for their support, congratulating them on the foundation’s 50th anniversary as he presented renderings of the Norris Healthcare Consultation Center to Harlyne J. Norris, a trustee of USC and the Norris Foundation, and Lisa Hansen, chair of the board of trustees for the Norris Foundation.

“Thanks to the cutting-edge technologies and pioneering therapies that will be available at the Norris Healthcare Consultation Center, we will do an even better job of turning cancer patients into cancer survivors,” Nikias said. “We will have a world-class facility to help us provide world-class care to all of our patients, allowing us to reach Kenneth Norris’ goal of ‘making cancer a disease of the past.’ ”

During her remarks, Harlyne Norris gave a recap of the foundation’s history with USC.

“I’ve enjoyed watching USC Norris grow, and my late husband was very proud of his involvement,” she said. “The research held his interest, and he would be amazed how far we have come to answering his goal.”

The Norris Foundation’s relationship with the Norris cancer center goes back to a lead gift that made groundbreaking possible for the center in 1979.

Hansen cited the most recent gift of $15 million as evidence of the continued commitment of Norris Foundation trustees to the work being done at USC Norris.

“It is our privilege to be a part of this latest project,” she said. “As funders, we know this is a sound investment; as people who have been touched by cancer, we know the funds are in good hands.”

The gift will be augmented by additional philanthropic support of $40 million that will be raised as part of the $1.5 billion Keck Medicine Initiative of The Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort to secure $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world.

The celebration continued at a luncheon, with a program introduced by Keck School of Medicine of USC Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, who thanked the members of the Norris Foundation and introduced USC Norris Director Stephen Gruber.

“He understands the mission of cancer centers, the integration of research and clinical care, and he’s always thinking about how to advance the fight against cancer at USC,” Puliafito said.

Gruber described the advances being made at the cancer center.

“We are already expanding the universe of precision cancer care right here at USC Norris, taking strides to cure cancers that were once thought untreatable and bringing discoveries from research benches to our patients’ bedsides,” he said. “Today we’re breaking ground on the building that will help turn our goal of making cancer a disease of the past into a reality.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge also made a quick visit to express his thanks for USC Norris’ continued service to Los Angeles.

“This is a very important place,” he told the audience. “There’s no place in our county that does so much for so many as USC.”

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