Philanthropists make gift for GBMC cancer treatment institute

Artist’s rendering of the future Sandra R. Berman Pavilion
Artist’s rendering of the future Sandra R. Berman Pavilion (Courtesy of Greater Baltimore Medical Center)

A new building at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center will allow cancer patients to receive all their care and treatment in one place.

The Sandra R. Berman Pavilion, currently scheduled for construction, will consolidate the services of GBMC’s Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute under one roof.

This new building has been made possible by a donation from Sandra, a member of the GBMC board of trustees, and her husband Malcolm Berman.

The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute is “probably one of the best cancer institutes in the city of Baltimore,” said Sandra Berman, a resident of Delray Beach, Fla., and a member of Beth El Congregation of Baltimore.

“It’s not like you’re going into a great big institution,” Berman said. “You’re going into a community hospital, and everybody there … is treated as an individual, not a number.”

The institute was founded in 1991 and has had its current name for the last two decades. The main part of the institute is currently housed in the Physicians Pavilion West section of GBMC, said Dr. Paul Celano, the Herman and Walter Samuelson medical director of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC.

“We are arguably the largest community cancer program within the state of Maryland, seeing over 2,000 cancer patients per year,” Celano said. “We very much value our patients as individuals and involve them in their care.”

The institute includes services and specialties such as colorectal, breast and thoracic surgery, radiation oncology, genetics and counseling services. To get their treatment, cancer patients often need to go from one part of the hospital to another.

“One of the reasons for this new building, really, is to consolidate all of the various services that we have to provide our patients with cancer,” Celano said.

He hopes that the new building will improve the efficiency of patient care and communication between providers.

“I’ve had a vision that I wanted all the cancer programs in one building,” Berman said. “Because right now, you’ve got radiation oncology [in] one place, you’ve got something else someplace else. … I just wanted everything under one roof, one building.”

GBMC has treated members of Berman’s family for medical issues in the past, she said. As such, Berman felt moved to give back to the hospital that had given her family so much.

As construction is already being done on the GBMC campus to create a new building of private rooms, they felt the time was right to begin work on a new cancer treatment facility as well, Berman said. Berman’s gift to GBMC was made in early April, she said. Construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2022, Celano said, and should be ready to receive patients in 2024.

Some of the amenities and services the new pavilion will include are a dedicated oncology pharmacy, a laboratory, a cafe, acupuncture, a healing garden and a yoga studio, Berman said.

“I feel as though it’s going to be that my dream and my vision is coming true, and this is going to be great for the patients and anybody in the community that has cancer to be treated in a community hospital in the suburbs,” she said.

Berman’s philanthropic work is greatly motivated by her Jewish identity.

“Tzedakah is giving back,” Berman said, “and as long as we can do it, it’s very important to us.”

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