Albany--Cancer causes more than 500,000 deaths in the US making it the second leading cause of death. One south Georgia hospital has plans to better treat people living with the killer disease.
Wednesday at 11 AM Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital will break ground for its new medical tower.
The estimated $50 million building will look almost identical to the hospital's current medical tower. Two of the floors of the five story facility will be designated for cancer treatment.
In about 18 months this parking lot will be transformed into this new treatment center for cancer patients.
"We have about 1300 new cases each year, new diagnosis of cancer that we treat," says oncologist Phillip Roberts.
Roberts currently sees about 25 patients per day.
"Our volume of cancer patients and the work we do has increased fifteen, twenty percent per year, so we're really outgrown our current space," he says.
Roberts says the building is long overdue.
"This place is really crowded. And people have to wait to get a chemotheraphy chair available to get their drugs administered. It's just to congested," he says.
The new building will sit adjacent to Phoebe's current medical tower. Once, the new facility is finished, it will allow doctors to work even harder toward cancer prevention.
"We're going to expand our clinical trials program. We want to have better facilities for our patients, better waiting areas. We want to have expanded treatment areas. It's going to enable us to have better care and recruit physicians, oncologists to the area. If we don't have good facilities. It's hard to bring people in," says Roberts.
"Statistics show that southwest Georgians experience cancer at a higher rate than other parts of the country," says Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick.
That's why Wernick says the building is desperately needed to accommodate the many cancer patients seeking treatment.
"Our goal is to keep southwest Georgians here in southwest Georgia for their medical needs. We want to have a facility that not only has people comfortable staying here at home, but may attract people from outside our region who become aware of things we do here," says Wernick.
For now, doctors, like Roberts eagerly wait for its completion.
"It's really going to be nice. We're looking forward to it," says Roberts.
The building will total 169,000 square feet once built.
Also, the new tower will have a sky-walk connected to one of the hospital's parking garages.