The center will allow patients in Calhoun and Gordon County to receive radiation therapy in their hometown instead of traveling to surrounding areas such as Dalton, Rome, and Chattanooga, said Jacobs.
With the largest donation of $1 million dollars to help fund the building, contributed by the Clarence E. Harris Foundation, the new center has been officially named after the foundation.
“It’s something we need in the area because so many people have had cancer,” said Bobbye Harris, wife of Clarence. “In fact I have had cancer. I didn’t have radiation, but my husband had prostate cancer and a lot of people in our family, so I just think its something the community needs.”
The center welcomed the addition of the linear accelerator, an approximately $2.5 million machine that delivers the radiation treatment, Thursday, at a press conference at the center in anticipation of the opening, pending completion in approximately one month.
“It’s just been a really exciting day to see this building being opened up as far as getting that big blue fence down and let the community now see, it’s really happening,” said Helen Jones, Chairman of the Gordon Hospital Foundation. “And to think about in the next month we will be seeing patients, that don’t have to go out of town and can be taken care of right here in Gordon County, it’s a great day for me and a great day for this community.”
In Gordon County, more than 3,000 residents have to leave the county to receive radiation therapy treatment elsewhere, according to press release from Gordon Hospital, including Gordon County Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Phillips.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, radiation therapy was not available in Calhoun,” said Phillips. “I would drive an hour and a half to have a five minute treatment, and then drive an hour and a half back home. Sometimes the treatment would zap my energy so I would have to have to wait about an hour before I could make the drive home. For that five-minute treatment it would sometimes be a five or six hour trip. I did that for nine weeks.”
The new radiation center will allow Gordon Hospital to deliver “the whole need” for patients needing radiation therapy, said Jacobs, who says that is the goal of the treatment center.
The center will keep cancer patients in the county and even those who are admitted into Gordon Hospital will now be able to go literally down a hill to receive the therapy they need.
“Right now if you have to have radiation therapy you have to leave town, this will allow you to stay here, most of the time there are thirty treatments and so for 30 days in a row you will be able to stay home instead of having to drive somewhere else,” said President and CEO of Gordon Hospital Pete Weber.
The center anticipates a staff of 11 including dieticians, chaplins, nurses, a medical oncologist and others to treat patients.
“Serving a smaller community gives you that sense of community and support and the warmness that you get, its just fantastic to be a part of this project,” said Lorie Hughes M.D. and Medical Radiation Oncologist for the therapy center. “This is going to be a real center for wellness and cancer education and prevention as well in the community. We are hoping we won’t just be serving the patients with cancer and their families, but to serve the whole community and be a great resource for the community.”
The therapy center will be a resource for the community, says Jacobs, to use for educational and awareness purposes.
“Through this project we not only want to met the medical needs of our cancer patients, but we are really very focused on meeting the needs of well people as well,” said Jacobs. “There is a lot of cancer prevention opportunities, a lot of education, and we strongly believe in the “Eight Principles of Creation,” health, involved choice, rest, activity, just to name a few, it’s a wellness concept for everybody, not only for if you have cancer, but just a way to live a more healthful life.
To put the treatment center into motion, Gordon Hospital first obtained a Certificate of Need (CON), an approval from the state, to prevent duplication of services according to Gordon Hospital’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Kim Brazell.
“We had several organizations oppose our Certificate (CON) and we spent about three years defending our ‘need’ for the service,” said Brazell. “When we got the final okay, we moved forward. I believe that we broke ground sometime in late February or early March. It’s been a fairly quick process.”
Funding for the center’s $2 million price tag came from several contributions, and to date has collected $1.7 million.
Donations include $200,000 from Helen Jones, $175,000 from The Hospital Authority Board, $100,000 from the Calhoun-Gordon County Community Foundations, “The Fund,” as well as many other donations for the center.
Additionally, Gordon Hospital is preparing to host its sixth annual Gordon Hospital Golf Classic tournament.
“We know that the economy is tight, but this is a great cause, and it’s a great day of golf and a way to improve the healthcare of our community with every stroke,” said Judy Jackson, .
The cost of entry in the tournament is $150 per player. Space is limited to 120 golfers.
You can register online by going to www.gordonhospital.com and click on the golf graphic in Gordon Highlights. In addition, brochures are available by calling Judy Jackson at 706.879.4744 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.