By Josh Akeman
With Wednesday's opening of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Newnan, cancer patients from all over the southeast will have a truly top of the line, unique, and gorgeous facility for their treatment.
The CTCA at Southeastern is the fifth of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America's such facilities, and its design and feel are catered to the what patients want-- in fact, patient input figures so heavily into the way the hospital is run that just about everything, down to the color of the wall paint, was chosen with patient input.
This is what the Cancer Treatment Centers of America calls Patient Empowered Care, and it really sets them apart from your average hospital in so many ways. The feel of most hospitals can leave patients feeling uncomfortable, but the CTCA at Southeastern feels like a place you would enjoy spending the weekend. Wide open halls, warm colors, comfortable seating, beautiful landscaping and outdoor seating, and even live swans are a few of the exceptional qualities that set the CTCA at Southeastern apart.
The patient focus is apparent in the aesthetics, and even more so in the treatment. The doctors and staff at CTCA at Southeastern go through a rigorous interview process that not only verifies their credentials and experience, but more importantly identifies candidates with a passion for patient care. Ask anyone with the CTCA at Southeastern and you will find that hiring the right people is very high on the priority list.
"I spent about 8 months interviewing between what they wanted to know from me and what I wanted to know from CTCA," said Dr. George Daneker, chief of staff, chief of surgery and surgical oncologist at CTCA at Southeastern Regional Medical Center. He went on to explain how, and why, the talent discovery process is different at CTCA than other hospitals.
"For docs coming into CTCA, in a lot of places it's your credentials, your training, what you've done that's the sole determinant. For us, that's just what gets you in the door, it just gets you looked at. For us it's more about, what is your approach to patient care, can you be patient centric, are you happy just doing the same old thing or are you always looking for new and innovative things to bring to patients? Are you willing to go that extra mile for people? That's really what we look for and that takes that extra time."
Dr. Daneker, asked to compare his time the CTCA with other career experiences, says "you know, it's not comparable. I had really enjoyed my previous practice situation, but it was nothing like this. This is really back to the basics of why people go into medicine, and I think myself and my colleagues feel this is kind of the culmination of our medical careers."
He credits that to being surrounded by "superbly qualified clinicians, the best technology, the best in the business, with a drive toward innovation. It really is the pinnacle of my clinical and professional career."
That best of the best mentality is seen all over the 226,000 square-foot hospital, from the superb 24/7 food service to the hardwood flooring and warm, comfortable feel of the patient rooms to the fact that the entire hospital is digital. Patients can access whatever they need, including volumes of information if they'd like to research their condition, or perhaps order a snack, all from a screen in their room. And all wiring and medical equipment is carefully covered up with wood cabinets so that the rooms feel more like home and less like a hospital. That too was an idea inspired by CTCA patients.
With big windows all over, natural lighting bathes the hospital, another important quality that adds to patient comfort, particularly for the chemotherapy infusions that can sometimes take many hours. The infusion bays are arranged so that patients can be social during treatment or have their privacy; everything can be customized to assure minimum stress.
The CTCA at Southeastern specializes in patients with advanced stages of cancer, and they will come from all over for treatment, so the hospital also includes 60 guest accommodation rooms for patients' families and friends. These too are warmly decorated and comfortable, again to minimize the stress on the people that often feel it the most when cancer strikes: the caregivers.
Patient Empowered Care provides patients with a fully focused core Empowerment TeamSM, which includes a medical oncologist, naturopathic oncology provider, registered dietician, nurse care manager, clinic nurse and others dedicated to helping the patient fight their specific cancer. All team members come to the patient in one comfortable room, one right after another, for a focused and uninterrupted visit that ensures the entire care team and the patient are on the same page throughout treatment.
If there is something a patient wants or needs for their treatment, whether it's spiritual guidance or accupuncture, it is available.
Kane Dawson, president and CEO of CTCA at Southeastern, says the decision to locate in Newnan was another part of the patient directed philosophy for the CTCA,
"we actually had a patient committee that narrowed the choice to three cities, and the patients unanimously selected Newnan.
Dawson went on to explain why Georgia, and Newnan particularly, were such a good fit, "ultimately it was my goal to get to Georgia and build an incredible team. Just like everything we do, we're guided by the patients, and they helped us select the site for the new hospital. We knew Atlanta was really kind of the capital of the Southeast. We knew the closer we could get to Hartsfield would benefit our patients. Our patients also liked the quaint quality and the history of downtown Newnan along with all the amenities of Ashley Park. "
In terms of the impact in the community, Dawson says there will be an economic impact, because two-thirds of the patients will be coming from outside of Georgia.
"It's going to be great for not just Newnan and Coweta County, but Atlanta, really the entire Southeast."