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Casey Christie / The Californian

Mercy Hospital

Mercy Hospitals is closing its Florence R. Wheeler Cancer Center at its Truxtun Avenue location on May 24.

Mercy President and CEO Bruce Peters said the hospital is moving its outpatient oncology services to the Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center.

"A little over a year ago we created a new partnership with Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center," Peters said.

He said CBCC, located on Truxtun Extension, has cancer-fighting technology and a number of advanced treatment tools that Florence R. Wheeler did not. The goal of the move is to give patients better, more coordinated care from diagnosis to treatment, Peters said.

Hospitals are also more expensive. Moving the outpatient services to CBCC lets the hospital group be not only more flexible in its services but also more cost effective, he said.

It also allows Mercy to open a full inpatient cancer treatment program for patients requiring hospitalization as they fight their disease.

Most people don't need inpatient care, Peters said.

"When they do they're pretty sick," he said.

The inpatient program is due to open in June.

Mercy is transferring almost the entire cancer center staff to CBCC, Peters stated in a letter to the Kern County Board of Supervisors. One job will be lost in the transfer.

The letter also lists two other alternatives to its services: the Kern Regional Oncology Center at Kern Medical Center and San Joaquin Community Hospitals' AIS Cancer Center on Chester Avenue, which had its grand opening in May 2013.

Peters said the closure of the Florence R. Wheeler Cancer Center, which opened in 1993, had been planned for years and was not a response to local market competition.