Cancer center groundbreaking still on for this year

Tue, 07/14/2009 - 4:21pm
By: John Munford

Despite the sluggish economy, Piedmont Fayette Hospital is pushing forward with its “comprehensive cancer center” plans, which will bring a host of cancer services in one area including radiation treatment, a first for Fayette County.

The hospital is in the final design stages of the cancer center, which will include a new linear accelerator to provide radiation treatment, a service currently unavailable here, according to hospital spokesperson Ryan Duffy.

The cancer center also will include chemotherapy treatment, and it puts in the same place all of the hospital’s cancer specialists ranging from its breast surgeon to oncologists from gynecology, radiation, surgery and other specialties.

Having all those doctors in the same area will allow them to collaborate even more to implement “the best practices from around the country,” Duffy said.

The hospital already has specialized diagnostics for cancer including ultrasound mammography, CT, MRI, endoscopy services and more, Duffy said.

“We have lots of pieces of cancer treatment, it’s just now coming together under one cancer center umbrella,” Duffy said.

Piedmont Fayette also will package its various cancer wellness programs in the same building, including a series of multipurpose rooms for meditation and yoga along with fitness. Included in the wellness program is a kitchen for cooking demonstrations to focus on the nutrition aspect of dealing with cancer.

“When undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, some people lose tremendous amounts of weight so it has a physical impact on their body,” Duffy said. The idea is for patients to learn about the nutrition issues before they undergo treatment so they can be prepared for the challenges and, once treatment is complete, be better equipped to recover.

The new linear accelerator is the centerpiece of the cancer center, as it will bring radiation services to Fayette cancer patients for the first time. Currently patients must travel out of the county for radiation treatment, a process that can be very debilitating, Duffy said.

Because many patients have to go to downtown Atlanta for radiation treatment, it also affects the caregiver, who must take a day off work for each treatment, Duffy said. The course of treatment including the number of doses varies, depending on the type of cancer and the stage the cancer is in, among other factors, she added.

The linear accelerator comes with a price tag of $2.7 million, a hospital official said late last year.

The variety of services the hospital is packaging in the cancer center was directly influenced by 150 cancer survivors in the community who were surveyed by the hospital to determine what they’d like to see in the center, Duffy said.

Cancer, Duffy said, has a big impact on patients’ and families’ lifestyles, Duffy noted.

“It takes more than just the clinical component to help pull you through cancer,” Duffy said.

The hospital hopes to have a groundbreaking for the project this fall, and much of the work will involve remodeling of the hospital’s 1267 building, just west of the main building. The cancer center will be accessed through a new entryway off the hospital’s “new” lobby on the west side.

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ptctaxpayer's picture
Submitted by ptctaxpayer on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 6:46am.

Munford yer a beauty....Did that lady really say what you said:

"Cancer, Duffy said, has a big impact on patients’ and families’ lifestyles, Duffy noted."

If she did, I still wouldn't have touched that one.

Your article sounds like a Chamber of Commerce press release.

Submitted by smile on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 2:06am.

Henry Medical Center will have a new Radiation Oncology Center open in summer 2010 on their campus. I guess a lot of cancer patients on the southside will not have to drive to Atlanta for radiation treatment in the future with all these new radiation treatment centers opening. Hopefully these centers will have quality doctors on staff for the patients.

Submitted by Bonkers on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 4:44am.

All doctors are quality doctors! All licensed and hired by experts!

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 5:40am.

All I know is that it was well worth the drive to Decatur 5 days a week for 7 weeks in order to receive treatment at Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia (RCOG). Many other men think it well worth coming to Atlanta from, say, Seattle or Trenton or Dallas or the UK, and taking up residence for 7 weeks in order to be treated at RCOG.

RCOG's cure rate, published in peer-reviewed journals, is the highest in the world, at better than 85%, and their stats include the fact that they accept patients with advanced cancers who are turned away by the best surgeons, such as Walsh at Johns Hopkins.

Proximity to home is not a good criterion for choosing a cancer center, as you can count on your fingers the number of genuine centers of excellence in the world. At least this is the case with prostate cancer. The chances for a cure and low morbidity are much higher if you seek out the best doctors and centers.

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 6:27am.

The TV ads for Cancer Treatment Centers of America are enough to keep me out of one of those!

Their whole spiel is how well, and nice, they talk to you! I don't know if health ot Medicare insurance pay these people or not, but I doubt it.

I have never heard of RCOG. Glad they helped you. I expect they help a lot of people as well as fail for a lot.

Frankly, I don't know how one "seeks out the best doctors and centers!"
Word of mouth is wrong as much as right.

The Johns Hopkins thing you mention sounds odd! I just thought it was hard to get in there and get insurance to pay it! I would venture that 75% or more of people with insurance are in special groups they must use or pay a penalty, and won't pay to go to the hospital where you want to go! Forget about it if you have no insurance.

If you had University paid insurance, it maybe would have paid, just as insurance would for Senators and Congressmen, and certain corporate employees.

Anyway, one can see why finally something dangerous is finally being done about health insurance! It is a real mess. Anytime anything is 20-25% of an economy and still doesn't do the job, it must be improved!
There is simply too much money and jobs involved for any private enterprise to run it except for a profit. Will the government do better? Can't do much worse. I like Medicare OK.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 7:08am.

I have never heard of RCOG. Glad they helped you. I expect they help a lot of people as well as fail for a lot.

Of course, it is still too early to tell whether my treatment was ultimately successful. One can be pronounced cured of cancer only once one has died of something else. But, so far so good. It's PSA tests every 6 months for the rest of my life.

As for the suggestion that they "fail a lot," nothing, of course, is 100%. But as I indicated, their cure rate (10-year) is better than 85%, which is actually better than that of the premier surgeon (Walsh) even though RCOG is treating men with more advanced cancers.
RCOG follows the progress of their patients and keeps close stats on their 10-year, and now 15-year, cure rates. Further, they publish their results in peer-reviewed journals, which, in itself, sets them apart from all but a few places.

Failed treatments are nearly always due to the fact that the cancer had already gone systemic by the time of treatment. There presently is no cure for prostate cancer when this has happened.

Frankly, I don't know how one "seeks out the best doctors and centers!"
Word of mouth is wrong as much as right.

No need to rely on mere "word of mouth" when there are places that publish their results. For instance, I've mentioned Patrick Walsh a couple of times. It is no accident that he has the reputation that he does as a surgeon. He is just very, very good, and he works at a center worthy of his skills.

The current wisdom is that if you are going to choose surgery, you should seek out a surgeon who has performed the procedure at least 100 times. I would add to that: seek out someone who can provide objective evidence of a high cure and low morbidity rate.

Voice of Fayette Future's picture
Submitted by Voice of Fayett... on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 5:56am.

Muddle is right--- RCOG is reputable and worth the drive. You really need to research what type of cancer you have and study it. This cancer unit is coming in for one reason--- large cash profits. Tyler Duffy is just a PR person---- not someone who knows or cares about your problem. Yes, there are many good doc's associated with Piedmont Fayette but there are also some horrid ones. Examples---(without names): (1) friend had fatal heart attack, I went to Fayette ER, his body was still warm. Nasty, nasty nurse said "When can you get the body out of here?". Exact quote [and let's not even get in to the three friends I know under the age of 65 who went in to the hospital and died]; (2) doctor who personally and his staff danced around giving up medical records saying "we don't do that...we only release your records to other physicians" because they were afraid of lawsuit, which was not the reason for the records; (3) rude general doc who was in a rush for personal matters and didn't finish a personal exam.

Lesson to be learned: Muddle is right--- PROXIMITY TO HOME IS NOT A GOOD CRITERION.

If somebody in my family has trauma, my preference will be Grady over the Fayette ER Morgue.

SPQR's picture
Submitted by SPQR on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 7:32am.

I have also lost confidence in the Fayette ER. In patient Hospital care is very good but in a life or death situation I hate the thought of being at their mercy. My thinking is that you could very easily die while they attend to a non life threatening situation. This unfortunately is based on personal experience.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 8:00am.

My wife was hospitalized there two years ago and very nearly died. I'll spare details here, but to say that it was a very bad experience. We'll never go back there for anything.

I insisted that she be transported to Emory, where they saved her life after several weeks of treatment. She was in such bad condition when she arrived, that one of the doctors there tried to prepare our family for the worst, thinking that she probably would not recover.

Submitted by smile on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 2:24pm.

I agree with all the comments about PFH not being one of the better hospitals. I think the only reason Piedmont came to Fayetteville and Newnan is because of the higher income residents in the area. "Not for Profit" does not mean the hospital is there to help people out of pure compassion to help sick people. The hospital industry is big BUSINESS and anyone going to a hospital, especially for cancer treatment, should do all the research they can. Don't just trust your doctor because your doctor will refer you to a hospital that he/she is affiliated with, and there may be financial gain on his part for doing so. Everyone should educate themselves like Muddle did when faced with a serious health issue.
I know first hand that the management at PFH does not always strive for excellence in patient care. They strive for the perception of excellence. That is Ryan Duffy's job. To let the public think that PFH delivers excellent care/treatment with concern for patient's lives. They care more about statistics and customer satisfaction surveys than the actual treatment and care of patients it seemed to me. Do not be fooled by customer survey scores though. Those only tell if someone felt they were treated nice by the staff. You need to be more concerned with patient outcomes and excellence in treatment and clinical care that deliver the best results possible. The executive staff at PFH are business majors and marketing majors. They are not doctors (except for the Chief Medical Officer) or social workers. They make big salaries and get all the perks so they are very concerned with "perception" so people will think of PFH as being excellent, but they should be more concerned with "reality" and focus all their efforts on making PFH one of the best hospitals to get treated because of top notch doctors and nurses and the best medical treatments available. They owe the citizens that much because YOU pay their salaries.
There are many wonderful people working at PFH but that does not mean I would want a loved one there. I don't know about Piedmont in Atlanta, but I don't think PFH is the place to go for life threatening issues. Don't put blind faith in your doctors/hospitals; RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. It is your health and you should demand the best care and that doesn't just mean having a nurse or doctor who are friendly. You want someone who knows what the heck they are doing and why they are doing it.

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 3:00pm.

The 60 million with no insurance are supposed to research, research, research on their non-existant computers?

The 150 million who have insurance that tells them where to go should research, research, research?

One needs to expand their mind and thoughts once in a while about practical things. Also, about those not so lucky!

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 6:54am.

You really need to research what type of cancer you have and study it.

This is very, very true.

A Fayetteville urologist diagnosed my cancer in October, '05. He, of course, suggested surgery and volunteered to do it at Piedmont-Fayette. But I was fortunate in that he believed that his patients should educate themselves as much as possible before making a treatment decision. He shoved a book in my hands, told me to read it, and then come back in to talk. I not only read the book, but wound up spending two months researching the disease and the various treatment options.

One of the things I learned was that the particulars of my cancer increased the likelihood that the cancer might not be wholly contained within the prostate, but would have broken out locally. (They found a bit of grade 4, which raised my Gleason score, and 11 out of the 12 biopsies taken were positive.) Of course, when that happens, surgery is no good, as some cancer is left on the other side of the blade.

I chose dual radiation--"seeds" followed by 7 weeks of IMRT--at RCOG because this gave me the best chance of nailing any cancer that may have broken out but was still localized.

When I came back in to see the urologist and explained my reasoning, he gave me his full support. This does not always happen, as many patients find themselves "bullied" into submitting to whatever the doctor decides is best. My uncle, for instance, had prostate cancer surgery done by the "guy down the street"--no research, no second opinion--who proved inept. (My uncle has been in diapers ever since.)

In fact, I encountered some of this attitude when I was doing my research. I interacted with Dr. Sheldon Marks in an online forum, asking him some questions about treatment. Marks was actually the author of the book that my doctor had given me. He replied to my question, "There is a problem when smart people like yourself are diagnosed with cancer because they think they are capable of understanding the issues enough to make a responsible treatment decision. But you are not a physician...." (In fact, he says something similar in his book.) That bit of counsel struck me as absurd. If patients do not take their treatment decisions into their own hands, then they are at the mercy of the first guy in a white coat that they encounter. The trouble, of course, is that one white-coated guy says you should zig, and another white-coated guy says you should zag. Short of educating oneself, how does one decide which advice to take?

cogitoergofay's picture
Submitted by cogitoergofay on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 8:32am.

That's what we did. Once the very sudden, shocking news of cancer came, we dumped the old car for something more reliable (not extravagant).

We put many, many, many miles on the replacement vehicle as we went all over metro Atlanta to get it right. Read, read, read and be relentless in preparing a strategy.

Yes, I would avoid an hour drive just to get my teeth cleaned but for cancer treatment I'll drive to MD Anderson in Houston if I have to. I just do not have a lot of faith in our local hospital just because it is a short drive.

darrylwd's picture
Submitted by darrylwd on Tue, 07/14/2009 - 11:44pm.

Ms Duffy, thank you for what you and PFH do for our community.

Submitted by smile on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 2:40pm.

her big paycheck is thanks enough. It is the nurses and housekeeping staff that need all the praise if they do their jobs right. The nurses take care of patients and the housekeeping staff cleans up after them. The two hardest jobs in a hospital in my opinion.
The housekeeping staff are the lowest paid workers in most hospitals but if they are doing their jobs right they actually prevent more hospital transmitted infections and improve patient outcomes more than the public will ever know. Hospital housekeeping (EVS) staff should be considered infection control professionals in my opinion and trained very well and given better pay.

Submitted by smile on Tue, 07/14/2009 - 8:12pm.

Our area will soon have two more choices for cancer treatments. The new Cancer Treatment Centers of America being built in Newnan and the one being built inside Piedmont Fayette. I think this is great for cancer patients and their families. I am especially excited about the new Cancer Treatment Center of America being built in Newnan. I think it will benefit the whole area of Coweta and Fayette economically and offer jobs for people in our area. I know I hope to work there!

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