Health Care Public Health

AdventHealth Gordon Cancer Center

Glynn Tindall’s vegetable garden produced more than 50 watermelons this summer.

“My wife and I have about eight acres of land, and we love to get out and work in the garden,” he said.

Tindall, a Calhoun resident undergoing treatment for stage 4 metastatic cancer, is looking forward to an upcoming feature of the newly opened AdventHealth Gordon Cancer Center.

“They tell me they’re going to have a garden I can look out at,” he said.

The cancer center, which opened for patient care in December, boasts 17 infusion bays with views of an outdoor space that, in keeping with AdventHealth’s whole-person approach to Cancer Care, will be turned into a healing garden to provide patients with the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of nature and the outdoors.

“The infusion bays have access doors to a healing garden space, so patients who are there for the full day can go outside into the garden area,” said Lanell Jacobs, the hospital’s director of oncology services. Growing demand for chemotherapy, immunotherapy and other services offered at AdventHealth Infusion Center Calhoun prompted hospital leaders to dedicate $2 million in capital funds to construct the new cancer center, Jacobs said.

“We had outgrown the space we were in, and the space was no longer meeting our needs,” she said. “But the greater need was to relocate the service to the campus where our radiation therapy center, breast center and surgical oncology services are located.”

By moving the infusion services and AdventHealth Medical Group Hematology Oncology at Calhoun into the new cancer center on the main AdventHealth Gordon campus, Jacobs said the hospital now offers truly comprehensive Cancer Care to the North Georgia communities it serves.

“Before 2012, we had Cancer Care, but we didn’t really have comprehensive Cancer Care because we didn’t offer a full range of services,” she said. “We opened the Harris Radiation Therapy Center at the end of 2012, and that was the first building block of our comprehensive cancer program.”

The medical oncology program began in 2015. The Edna Owens Breast Center opened in 2019. In summer 2020, construction began to transform the first floor of the medical office building’s east wing into the cancer center.

In addition to the 17 infusion bays, which are outfitted with movable glass dividers to allow for patient-controlled privacy options, the cancer center has nine exam rooms in its clinic space, as well as a dedicated lab and pharmacy.

“If a patient is there to see their physician, the dietician or the mental health provider, that will all be handled on the clinic side,” Jacobs said. “The breast center is just across the lobby. Radiology is down the hallway, and the radiation therapy center is in the building right next to the hospital.”

Surgical oncology and urologic oncology services are located on the floor above the cancer center.

“Even though we do not have everything in one building, everything is co-located on the campus, so patients can park in one place and access all the services they need,” Jacobs said.

Those services include imaging, nutrition counseling, emotional and mental health counseling, support groups and weight management programming.

“When things are conveniently located and easy for the patient, it makes care better and it makes healing better,” Jacobs said.

The centralized location also improves coordination of care among the health care professionals working with the patients and their families, she said.

"This center is the culmination of a vision to provide a regional location that fosters innovative cancer care," said Mridula Vinjamuri, MD. "This model of integrating multi-modality care complemented with the administration of expert cancer treatment options ensures excellent care for all patients, indistinguishable with a larger or academic cancer center. The multidisciplinary expertise implemented at AdventHealth all target the same problem, each from a diverse perspective, as an effort to commit to the patient's best personalized treatment plan."

Dr. Vinjamuri joined the Cancer Care team in November 2020 as its new medical oncologist, and she will be joined in fall 2021 by a second medical oncologist.

Jacobs said physicians and hospital leaders are now focused on developing additional service offerings to cancer patients, such as clinical trials.

According to Jacobs, the new facility can accommodate up to 30 percent more daily patients, including those needing blood transfusions, antibiotic infusions and other infusion services.

“Having easy and convenient access for care is such a benefit to the community,” she said. “Outcomes are better when access is better.”

Patients are more likely to come to the hospital for preventative health care screenings like mammograms or colonoscopies when they are conveniently located, she said.

The cancer center’s location in the heart of Gordon County also means patients don’t have to travel far to receive high-quality care from certified health care professionals who have access to the latest medicines, therapies and equipment being used to treat cancer.

“The health of the community is improved by providing these services as close by as we can,” Jacobs said.

In March 2019, when Tindall learned he had stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized into the liver, his children wanted him to seek treatment in Atlanta. Tindall balked at the idea of driving more than an hour away for the same services he could receive four miles down the road.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to Atlanta,’” he said. “Boy am I glad I didn’t.”

He praised the attentiveness and compassion of his nurse practitioner, Terrilynn Blackstock, ACNPC-AG, AOCNP, and nurses like Crystal Townsend and others who tended to him through chemotherapy infusions, liver ablation and embolization therapies and follow-up scans to assess how well the treatments were working.

Many patients from neighboring counties like Murray, Whitfield, Bartow and more come to AdventHealth Gordon, not just for the exceptional Cancer Care, but for the compassionate and caring team.

“The people are just fantastic,” Tindall said. “They are just as nice as they could be. I couldn’t ever say enough good things about them.”

As an 82-year-old with stage 4 cancer, Tindall said he’ll never be cancer-free, but he has no regrets about his decision to stay in Calhoun for treatment.

“I made a good choice, and AdventHealth has been a great place for me,” he said.

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