The new Grandview Cancer Center opened with a ribbon cutting May 31st.
According to Cancer Center Director Jennifer De Los Santos, MD "We are implementing a comprehensive approach that encompasses both state of the art treatment and supportive care services that address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our patients. With improving cancer cure rates, we need to focus not only on the treatment, but also on the longer-term picture of wellness. This includes addressing late treatment effects of cancer therapy."
De Los Santos is nationally known for her work in radiation oncology. She practiced at UAB for 17 years, giving her insight from an academic facility, while her time with patients gives her the vision of what could be. "I have seen is that treating the cancer is not enough," she said. "You have to approach the patient as an individual. Getting them through the therapy is just one aspect. You have to restore the patient after therapy is complete."
The cancer center boasts the latest in diagnostic imaging, radiation equipment from the TrueBeam Linear Accelerator, chemotherapy infusion bays and a large-bore PET/CT scanner for diagnostic studies and simulations technology. The facility also includes a six-degree couch in its treatment arsenal, providing RPS-System for more precise radiotherapy treatments.
"Additionally, we have an infusion suite on the second floor that overlooks the lawn," De Los Santos said. "It's a peaceful setting to receive therapy.
"The facility's research component will include future protocols with more sophisticated radiation and systemic therapy options and newer treatment paradigms that may change that way we approach treatment of certain cancers. I am currently involved in research that is looking at eliminating surgery in a subset of breast cancer patients. These newer approaches are some of the options we are looking to offer patients at Grandview cancer center."
From interaction at the front desk all the way through treatment, the facility is designed to give patients a sense of caring, along with an interdisciplinary approach flowing from the most dynamic industry therapies and technology through survivorship care.
The Cancer Center will offer a wide-range of oncology services, including the latest technology in radiation therapy and PET/CT, as well as full-service medical oncology capabilities.
"One of the most important things we set out to do in the center was to learn the best practices in the facility itself," said Drew Mason, CEO of Grandview Medical Center.
A patient navigator will assist individuals with services available along the spectrum of their care, including 3D mammography; CT simulation and treatment planning; prostate seed implants; inpatient and outpatient chemotherapy; and blood transfusions, injections and other outpatient therapies.
"As we are developing the center, we are implementing referrals and individualizing them to meet each patient's needs," De Los Santos said. "For instance, we know head and neck cancer patients go through many nutritional challenges during their treatment. We address this upfront with consults to nutritionists.
As a third-year medical student, De Los Santos had a rotation in medical oncology and realized while seeing a patient through chemotherapy induction and remission that she was meant to be an oncologist.
"Curing patients isn't enough. There are so many difficult challenges these patients face after cancer therapy, De Los Santos said. "After treatment and medical care, we must focus on restoring patients back to baseline."
Mason said the center is a complement to the work Grandview has accomplished since its opening. "We have put together a significant physician network and grown our admissions by 100 percent over the last two-and-a- half years," he said. "The development of this subspecialty was needed across our continuum of care. This state-of-the-art patient experience is the missing piece of what Grandview has created across the 280 corridor and around the state."
Ramie Wesley, oncology/imaging director, joined Grandview in 2015 to participate in the development of Grandview Cancer Center. Her role is pivotal in determining community needs, as well as how to collaborate, build and develop the research program.
Wesley says the close relationships with Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center, the American Cancer Society, the Think of Laura Foundation and the Susan G. Komen Foundations help in understanding how best to expand to accommodate patient needs.
"We have a mission to meet the expectations of patients and their loved ones," Wesley said. "We are poised to have high quality operation on the 280 corridor that will meet needs for years to come."