quality health care back in Catoosa County and all of North Georgia,” he said.
Now, as June draws to a close, it seems that the Rees Skillern Cancer InstituteParkway will occupy the former Fuller Cancer Center at 4750 Battlefield Parkway. And, it is hoped, soon shall offer world-class services.
“This will really change the lives of my friends and neighbors,” said Dr. Ted Arrowsmith. “CHI has a mission of compassion and excellence.”
A physician with Tennessee Oncology, one of the nation’s largest communitybased cancer care specialists, Arrowsmith lives in Flintstone and has practiced medicine in Northwest Georgia for 18 years.
Treatment of cancer is different from nearly any other medical specialty, he said. Unlike surgery, it is something that can require treatment over an extended period of time. For those undergoing radiation therapies, daily treatments might be necessary for a period of several weeks. Other patients might face a treatment regime that requires monthly chemotherapy treatments over the course of years.
Curative care can vary broadly, Arrowsmith said, but something seemingly as insignificant as reducing the time spent traveling from home to their doctor’s office or treatment facility can be of immeasurable benefit for a cancer victim.
“It might be shortterm but of significant importance to minimize the disruption of their lives,” he said.
And it is not only for those who undergo treatment that can make them feel worse rather than better after a round of radiation or infusion. Having a fullservice facility near where they live allows even terminal patients the opportunity of spending every moment possible with those they love — and not trying to find a way to travel to a nearby city for treatment.
“That time saved can be life-saving,” the doctor said.
Arrowsmith said the “radiation equipment will be the best in the region,” and, of equal importance, the Rees Skillern Cancer Institute technical and medical staff are second to none.
Officials said they are prepared to upgrade the facility’s linear accelerator to provide full-service cancer services as early as September.
“Government goes slow,” Henry said, “Government and medical together goes even slower. I hope that in 30 days we’ll be able to move forward.”
Schumacher said the only thing that could delay this start is an appeal of the June 25 decision by Erlanger Health System.
Erlanger’s application for building a new cancer center in Ringgold was opposed by Catoosa County’s elected officials and denied by the Georgia Department of Community Health.
But Erlanger can appeal the certificate of need that was granted to CHI, and, Schumacher said, “Only Erlanger can delay the community’s cancer care by trying to block CHI Memorial from providing care to the people of North Georgia.”
Access to radiation oncology at CHI Memorial-Parkway could be delayed by two years or more as the issue is resolved through the legal process, he said, meaning hundreds of people will be denied access to life-saving care close to home.
“Erlanger had its opportunity to invest in radiation oncology services over the three years it managed Hutcheson Medical Center, yet failed to do so,” Schumacher said. “It also owned the land for its proposed cancer center for 10 years, but again failed to take steps to create a cancer center.”
Arrowsmith said that each year, more than 500 individuals must travel away from this Georgia region to receive cancer treatments, something that is a burden on them, their families and friends.
“People should not have to travel great distances to obtain life-saving radiation therapy,” he said. “Extensive travel for treatment can be exhausting for the individual and challenging for family members who are there to help.”
CHI officials noted a need and dedicated themselves to helping advance their mission of providing compassionate care for the sick and dying. Having done that, Schumacher said the public can contribute that goal’s realization.
“We need your voice,” he said. “We need you to take action today.”
That action involves going online at CHIMemorialNOW. org to sign a petition that supports opening a cancer care center — now — in Northwest Georgia.
State Sen. Jeff Mullis was introduced as a significant supporter of CHI’s presence in the region and its initiative to bring cancer care closer to his home.
“I’m grateful you’re expanding,” Mullis said. “This is so important to this community — medically, economically, socially — thank you and God bless you.”