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An anonymous donor has given Billings Clinic $1 million for its cancer program, the hospital announced Monday.

The donation brings to $9.3 million the amount Billings Clinic has raised for two construction projects that will expand its cancer services.

"To get a gift this significant at this time is incredible," said Jim Duncan, president of the Billings Clinic Foundation. "People still get cancer in stressful economic times."

Fundraisers set out to raise $10 million to build a 50,000-square-foot comprehensive cancer center and a 26-bed inpatient oncology unit at opposite ends of Billings Clinic's downtown campus. The total cost for both projects is $37 million.

The oncology unit is scheduled to open Feb. 1 on the top floor of a four-story wing that houses the hospital's new emergency and trauma center. That $29 million addition, which faces 10th Avenue North, was finished in March 2007.

The $30 million cancer center is going up south of the hospital's clinic building on Eighth Avenue North between North Broadway and North 29th Street. It is slated to open next August.

An $18.5 million, 29,000-square-foot outpatient surgery center is also under construction on Billings Clinic's campus.

Hospital officials declined to provide any details about the $1 million donor except to say that the person wanted to make treatment easier on the families of cancer patients.

"As an organization, we can support families through cancer," said Liz Wilmouth, director of the hospital's cancer capital campaign. "It's not just the patient who has cancer. It affects the whole family."

To that end, patient rooms on the new oncology floor are being designed so that family members can stay in the hospital with their loved ones.

The rooms are half again as large as typical hospital rooms and will be outfitted with sofas that convert into beds. The rooms will also have wireless Internet service, Wilmouth said.

Plans also call for a central kitchen and dining room where families can cook and eat meals together.

Billings Clinic broke ground on its cancer center in September 2007, saying the new facility would bring all of the hospital's cancer services under one roof.

It announced plans earlier this year to locate an inpatient oncology unit on the other side of the campus near existing inpatient services.

Contact Diane Cochran at or 657-1287.

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