WellStar announces community groundbreaking for new cancer center

Published 7:56 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019

WellStar West Georgia Medical Center will move a step closer to enhancing its cancer care program with a community groundbreaking event at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, to commemorate the upcoming renovation and expansion of its Enoch Callaway Cancer Center located at 111 Medical Drive. The public is invited to attend.

The $24 million project will include the renovation and upgrade of the current cancer center building and consolidate all cancer services in the same location. Currently, the medical oncology and infusion services are located within the hospital, while radiation oncology, endoscopy suite, cancer care navigation and complementary therapies are located within the existing cancer clinic.

WellStar West Georgia has awarded a $15.7 million contract to Batson-Cook Construction to renovate the center’s approximately 40,000-square-foot space. Construction is expected to begin this summer, and plans call for the newly renovated building to be complete in mid- to-late 2020. 

“We are thrilled to have been awarded such a significant project,” said Paul Meadows, vice president and general manager for Batson-Cook. “Since opening in 1975, the Enoch Callaway Cancer Clinic has served area citizens — including Batson-Cook employees and their families — well. To be able to work with WellStar to upgrade and improve the facility is a tremendous honor that we don’t take lightly.”

More than 3,100 local residents, foundations and businesses provided funding for the first $10 million needed for the project, including a $5 million matching grant from Callaway Foundation, Inc. 

The WellStar West Georgia family has strongly supported the effort, with the hospital’s team members contributing more than $1.3 million to date and $500,000 from the hospital’s auxiliary. WellStar Health System has allocated capital support for the remainder.

Coleman Foss, president of WellStar West Georgia, said the hospital’s current cancer care program already has had a profound effect on the lives of individuals in west Georgia and east Alabama in the 72 years since Dr. Enoch Callaway began providing cancer treatment to the community in 1937.

“Our Oncology Services team already has enhanced Dr. Callaway’s vision through the advanced technology and treatment we provide our patients in a compassionate, caring environment,” Foss said. “Time and again we hear from patients who are so grateful to our physicians and clinicians for helping them beat cancer without having to go out of town for treatment.”

“We are so thankful to the Callaway Foundation, our team members and volunteers, and all the individuals and businesses who have supported this effort. It is exciting to visualize how the new space will impact the already advanced level of care and technology we provide to those affected by cancer and their families.”

Tripp Penn, president of Callaway Foundation, Inc., said the newly renovated building will complement the advanced care and technology already being provided by physicians, nurses, care navigators and other WellStar West Georgia team members.

“Contributing to the cancer center’s transformation is a meaningful way for Callaway Foundation to invest in our community’s health,” Penn said. “Our trustees are excited to help support the excellent care and treatment that is being offered right here in our hometown. We all have friends and family members who have received a cancer diagnosis, which is quite scary, who chose to go to WellStar West Georgia for treatment.  Not only was their cancer treated, but they also said they loved how they were treated like family.”

WellStar West Georgia’s Oncology Services program offers four main types of treatment: chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Its radiation oncology program is advanced in its cutting-edge technology and treatment offered by radiation oncologist Dr. Robert Taylor and his team. 

Using stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy with other complementary technologies, Taylor and his team have the ability to destroy brain, lung and other tumors without any cutting, anesthesia or recovery normally associated with an operation. The procedures are quick and easy with no pain or discomfort, and patients can even drive themselves home immediately after. 

The current cancer building also houses a medical linear accelerator, which Taylor and his team use to provide external beam radiation. The linear accelerator delivers high energy X-rays or electrons to conform to a tumor’s shape and destroy cancer cells while sparing surround normal tissue. 

The upgraded cancer center will include a second $5 million linear accelerator in addition to the advanced radiation therapy and advanced targeting software already available.

The new building also will house other diagnostic technologies and individualized chemotherapy solutions. It also will feature more patient exam rooms for Radiation Oncology, an expansion of Medical Oncology’s practice suite, an in-house pharmacy for chemotherapy preparation, a boutique filled with wigs and other items for cancer patients and a resource center to learn about cancer. The new center will streamline treatment coordination and create spaces for new technologies and community outreach activities. 

The resource center will feature a children’s corner with age-appropriate information, technologies and special programs to help children deal with a family member’s diagnosis of cancer. The renovation will also include a chapel and public meeting space for support groups, community outreach activities and complementary therapies such as therapeutic exercise and guided artistic expression classes.

The construction includes selective demolition and renovation of the center’s interior spaces, along with the removal and replacement of the building’s exterior skin, Meadows said.

In addition, Batson-Cook will add a horizontal expansion of a concrete linear accelerator vault and other adjacent support services. The project’s scope also includes extensive mechanical, sprinkler, plumbing additions and rework. The exterior landscape and hardscape will also be completely enhanced with new healing gardens, stone accents and a fountain. 

During construction, Batson-Cook will work closely with the WellStar West Georgia team to ensure Oncology Services is able to continue serving its patients in its partially occupied spaces.

The Cancer Center’s architect is TRO Jung Brannen Inc., and the program manager is Johnson Development, both of Birmingham, Alabama. 

The community groundbreaking ceremony will be held in the physicians’ parking area near the front entrance of the cancer center located at 111 Medical Drive. 

Those who wish to attend should use WellStar West Georgia’s main entrance at 1514 Vernon Road, where directional signs to the event and to designated parking areas will be available.