DETROIT — The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center dedicated its new Joseph Dresner Family Clinic for Hematologic Malignancies & Stem Cell Transplantation with a ribbon-cutting celebration Thursday. It was made possible by a $2.5 million contribution from the late Joseph Dresner, who passed away earlier this year.

Dresner was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2002 and was treated by his physician Charles A. Schiffer, M.D., leader of the Malignant Hematology Multidisciplinary Team at the Karmanos Cancer Center. To show his gratitude, he made his donation in May 2010 to honor Dr. Schiffer for his world-renowned expertise in treating hematologic malignancies.

Lori Dresner, daughter of the late Joseph Dresner, recalled the special relationship her father had with Dr. Schiffer.

“From the first time my dad met Dr. Schiffer, about 10 years ago, he was so impressed; not only because of Dr. Schiffer’s expertise, but also for his warmth and genuine caring demeanor,” Lori Dresner said. “They just seemed to connect. Shortly before my dad passed away, he was able to tour this clinic while it was under construction. Being a builder, dad could envision what the clinic would look like long before there were defined spaces. He was so weak at the time but touring this clinic gave him a spark. He couldn’t stop talking about it. He was so excited to see this take shape, knowing his gift would impact patients for years to come.”

The 15,000 square-foot Dresner Clinic opened to patients earlier this month. It brings together Karmanos’ bone marrow transplant and hematology services in one centralized area to streamline the coordination of patient services, allowing patients continuity of care and the optimal patient experience. It also provides physicians and medical staff easy access to patients. Patients being seen for bone marrow and stem cell transplants, MDS, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and other hematologic malignancies, are treated in the Dresner Clinic.

In addition to Lori Dresner and Dr. Schiffer, on hand for the dedication were Gerold Bepler, M.D., president and CEO, Karmanos Cancer Institute; Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis, representing Detroit Mayor Dave Bing; Alan S. Schwartz, chair, Karmanos Cancer Institute Board of Directors; and other supporters and friends.

“This is the first major renovation project at Karmanos since my tenure began, just over two years ago,” said Dr. Bepler. “We are truly grateful to the late Joseph Dresner and his family. His generous gift will continue to enhance our patients’ treatment and care at the Karmanos Cancer Center. Mr. Dresner has created a wonderful legacy for our patients now and in the future. I would also like to thank our dedicated Karmanos team. When it comes to caring for patients with cancer, nowhere is there a more compassionate and extremely qualified team than at the Karmanos Cancer Center. I’m honored to work beside you.”

Once fully operational, the Dresner Clinic will help expand Karmanos’ ability to conduct future cancer research and clinical trials focusing on leukemia, multiple myeloma, lymphoma and MDS. This will facilitate Karmanos researchers’ ability to collect clinical data and samples for laboratory research.

“Joe Dresner participated in a number of clinical trials during his treatment here and I know that he would have been most pleased with the results of his generosity – satisfying his goals of increasing the comfort and convenience for patients, while providing a setting to gain new knowledge that will improve outcomes for patients for generations to come,” said Dr. Schiffer. “It was my privilege to participate in the care of this fine gentleman for many years and I am most proud to have helped in the development of this wonderful legacy to his memory.”

The Dresner Clinic has 16 examination rooms and 13 infusion rooms for hematologic malignancy and bone marrow/stem cell transplant patients; patient and physician consultation rooms; and a patient and family waiting area with a beverage station. In addition, the clinic has the Versus system, which allows staff to track patients and physicians within the clinic to assist with workflow and cut down on wait time, enhancing the patients’ experience. The beautiful photographic scenes of Michigan displayed throughout the clinic were submissions from staff, faculty, family and friends.

It’s estimated that the clinic will have approximately 19,200 clinic visits per year and an additional 6,000 infusions visits per year.

Approximately 60 health care providers, including physicians, nurses, bone marrow/stem cell transplant coordinators, and oncology and ambulatory care associates, make up the Dresner Clinic staff. Employees transitioned from their previous areas at the Karmanos Cancer Center to be together in this new clinic to enhance continuity of patient care, as well as staffing needs.

Dresner also supported Karmanos prior to his gift for the Dresner Family Clinic. His overall financial contribution totaled $5 million.

Additional donors have also supported the Dresner Clinic, providing funding for artwork, infusion chairs and medical equipment.

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