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CAMC cancer center nearing donation target

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston Area Medical Center's fundraising campaign for a new cancer center is entering the home stretch.

The CAMC Foundation now has $12 million of the $15 million it hopes to raise for a brand-new David Lee Cancer Center, to be built on the old Watt Powell Park property in Kanawha City.

Gail Pitchford, the foundation's president, said the group needs only $2.5 million in donations. The Maier Foundation has pledged to contribute $500,000 once CAMC hits the $14.5 million mark.

"We would love to close the campaign by Dec. 31. That's been our goal all along," she said.

The center will cost $39 million in all. The hospital system would foot the bill for the remaining $24 million.

Pitchford said construction of the cancer center would begin early next year, even if the foundation hasn't completed its "Power of Many" fundraising campaign. The hospital plans to break ground in January.

Construction is expected to take 18 months, with the building opening its doors in 2014.

Plans for the center are completed, but Pitchford said the hospital wants to wait a few weeks before unveiling them so the news won't get lost in the election uproar.  

"We want to give it the proper respect it deserves," she said.

She said CAMC would debut the plans to employees first because they were the initial contributors. To date, hospital staff has donated $560,000 to the new center.

"The employees were first in with the campaign. We feel it's important that the employees get the first look at them," she said.

Some preparation work for the new cancer center is under way. Crews are working on MacCorkle Avenue near the 35th Street Bridge. They are installing a turning lane in the median that will be the westbound entrance to the cancer center.

Pitchford said workers soon would install a new stoplight on MacCorkle Avenue at 33rd street.

The new cancer center will replace CAMC's current David Lee Cancer Center on its Memorial Hospital campus. That center has reached its maximum capacity and needs more space.

The new building will feature a garden, cafe and seating areas designed to look more like living rooms than waiting rooms. The center also will feature something CAMC's current campuses do not: free parking.

Pitchford said the foundation receives donations every day for the new cancer center, some large and some small.

"Some of them are $2 and $5 with notes from folks that say, 'This is all I can do.' Those $2 or $5 gifts, that's like $100,000 to some other people," she said.

"From the very first dollar that was given, it's still amazing to me and it's still humbling."

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or Follow him at


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