Dr. Patrick Cobb stood in amazement as hundreds of patients, friends and supporters flowed through the front doors of the Frontier Cancer Center and Blood Institute Sunday afternoon.
Each who passed by were welcomed with a hug or handshake before roaming around the new $23 million cancer center where Cobb is a managing partner.
Crowds wandered through the radiology waiting room, passed the phlebotomy area and through various exam rooms.
The tour continued upstairs to the chemotherapy area and the outside deck area.
Formerly known as the Hematology Oncology Center of the Northern Rockies, which was located on North 30th Street, the new center has been three years in the making.
Construction crews broke ground about 14 months ago, leading up to Sunday’s ribbon cutting and open house.
“This is a lot more people than we thought,” Cobb said as the last few people filed through. “The rain held off, so that was a blessing.”
The center’s name has a dual meaning: first, to pay tribute to the area’s pioneering past, and second, to remind patients of the center’s purpose — to be at the forefront of cancer care.
“We gave it a lot of thought,” Cobb said.
The center’s pioneering roots go further than just a name. The very soil the center now stands on was once a field filled with rows of sugar beets, corn and alfalfa.
The area belonged to the family of Charlie Yegen. It was purchased in 1889 by his great-grandfather, Edward Cardwell.
The family, including 91-year-old father Peter Yegen III, sold the property in 2009 to the cancer center.
Both Charlie and Peter attended the grand opening.
“We are so lucky to have an opportunity to be affiliated with these guys,” Charlie Yegen said at the open house. “We are just delighted. We knew it would be good because of the quality of people.”
Billings’ resident Sandy Monson said she knows just how good they can be.
With the help of the 60-person staff now at the new center, Monson was able to win the battle against cancer — twice.
Monson was diagnosed with colon cancer 10 years ago and survived. Last year, she beat breast cancer.
“She knows a lot of the folks here,” said her husband, Ed Monson. “Thanks to these people, that’s how she beat it.”
The Monsons toured the two-story facility and left with smiles on their faces.
“We are so happy to see a state of the art facility like this in Billings,” said Sandy, who has an appointment scheduled at the center this week.
Monday’s patient list is already 21 appointments long, Cobb said.
Clarence Zent will be scheduling his first visit soon.
He’s been battling prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the past three years.
Clarence and his wife, Evelyn, were pleased with the layout of the facility, as well as the location.
“It’s closer to where we live and parking is going to be a lot nicer,” Clarence said. “It’s great.”
Patients showing up for their first appointments today will be greeted by a receptionist on the first floor. Those getting treatment can even take advantage of the second floor deck overlooking the Yegen Golf Course and Rimrocks.
“We had several places we looked at, but we find that here, away from the medical corridor, it’s kind of peaceful,” Cobb said. “When you visit you can see the mountain ranges.
“We fell in love with it.”
Contact Chelsea Krotzer at email@example.com or 657-1392.