WellStar West Georgia breaks ground on cancer center renovation, expansion

Published 8:30 pm Thursday, June 20, 2019

WellStar West Georgia Medical Center celebrated a groundbreaking moment Thursday morning.

To commemorate the upcoming renovation and expansion of its Enoch Callaway Cancer Center, the hospital held a community groundbreaking ceremony.

“It is a great day,” said Coleman Foss, president of WellStar West Georgia Medical Center. “This has been a long time coming. It has been 10 years since people began to first donate to this enterprise, and so it has really been something we have been striving for, for a long time.”

More than 3,000 local residents, foundations and organizations contributed the first $10 million for the center’s $24 million renovation and expansion, with the Callaway Foundation providing a $5 million grant.

Foss said that he hopes that construction and renovation will be completed hopefully within the next 12 months.

“Oncology care requires a huge level of compassion and a huge level of commitment, and that team (Callaway Oncology), we could not be prouder of what they do,” Foss said. “Having only been here six months, I am so encouraged with what I see in this community.”

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, according to a press release from the hospital. The project will include an upgrade of the current cancer center building and consolidate all cancer services in the same location.

“While this cancer center will be equipped with the latest technology and treatment needed to save lives, it will also be a soothing, healing place,” said Nancy Durand, chairman for Board of Directors, West Georgia Health Foundation and member of WMGC’s Board of Trustees. “Our updated cancer center will have resource center, children’s center, a chapel, spaces for therapy groups and community outreach programs. It will be a building we will all be very proud of.”

Foss said that since WellStar integrated with West Georgia Medical Center, it has been nothing but success.

“They (WellStar) have been great, and I am real thrilled to work with the level of commitment to patient satisfaction, patient output,” Foss said. “It is truly our vision within WellStar to be world class in healthcare, and the servant leadership that they embody is second to none.”

Two new hematology oncologists will join the staff later in the year as well. Carrie Owen Plietz, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the hospital division of WellStar Health System, told the crowd the main vision of the hospital is to serve and that her connection to cancer makes this groundbreaking especially special to her.

“One of the first things I donated to when I joined this team was to this project, so I join for those who have been waiting for about 10-plus years for this moment,” Plietz said. “Oncology and cancer services has been something very important to me and my family, as I am sure everybody here has been touched by cancer in some way, shape or form, unfortunately. But today our mission and vision are to provide world class health care to patients.”

Cancer treatment has been a focus for 72 years, since 1937 when Dr. Enoch Callaway began providing cancer treatment for the community after losing his daughter to glaucoma.

“Our trustees and I feel very honored to be part of this critical initiative and look forward to watching Dr. Callaway’s legacy continue to grow for generations to come,” said Callaway Foundation President Tripp Penn. “This project feels very personal for me, and I know it is for a lot of you as well.”

Penn said his mother had cancer in 2003 and because of the cancer center, 16 years later she has still been able to enjoy her life on earth.

“We are really fortunate to have world-class healthcare in this community,” Penn said. “What began with one grieving, but very determined father has grown to encompass dozens of oncology professionals who are dedicated to delivering lifesaving care.”