Can­cer

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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.”

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