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A ‘healing and hopeful environment’: When new, one-stop Cancer Center may open in South Hall
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The Longstreet Clinic clinical operations manager Ashley Belfance takes a tour of the cancer center Friday, June 11, 2021, inside Braselton hospital's Medical Plaza 1 building. - photo by Scott Rogers

One-stop cancer care is on the way for area patients, as final touches are being made at Medical Plaza 1 at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton campus in South Hall.

The Cancer Center is set to open June 28, housing Longstreet Clinic’s medical oncology practice and Northeast Georgia Physicians Group's radiation oncology services.

Because cancer patients see a variety of doctors, from surgeons to oncologists, “having that collaborative, comprehensive approach to how we deliver care is important,” said Mimi Collins, Longstreet CEO.

“The Braselton campus really gave us that platform to be able to envision what (that type of) facility could look like,” she said.

Dr. Geoffrey Weidner, a radiation oncologist with NGPG and NGMC’s medical director of radiation oncology, said, “While we have been providing comprehensive cancer care in Braselton for many years now, this new space provides a more cohesive environment and access to both medical oncology/hematology and radiation oncology services, as well as a new dedicated entrance providing easier access for our cancer patients.”

Kevin Matson, vice president of facilities and support services for Northeast Georgia Health System, said, “When a patient visits this new cancer center, the level of focus we’ve placed on the patient experience is going to be obvious, from the convenience of the parking to the layout of all the comprehensive services. Navigating cancer care can be very challenging for patients.”

Attention was given down to paint colors and artwork on walls, designed to “create a very healing and hopeful environment,” Matson said.

Dr. Charles Nash III, Longstreet Clinic oncologist and medical director of NGHS’ Cancer Services, also emphasized the convenience factor for patients.

“They’ve had to traverse parking lots, park maybe four times on a given day to get the job done,” he said.

Plus, providers “are literally steps away from each other, so we can discuss together at a given moment a patient’s care and the coordination of care — which is a great advantage for the patient,” Nash said.

Also plugged into area cancer care is Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, which gives patients access to treatment plans and more than 275 existing therapeutic clinical trials.

“When a very high level of care is necessary, something like a bone marrow transplant or a complicated surgical procedure we may not do in Gainesville, this (Emory) association has helped us,” Nash said.

“Plus, we have patients coming from Emory to Gainesville to participate in trials we do that maybe they don’t,” he said.

Overall, the new center “has been made necessary by the growth of the program and the needs of the Greater Braselton/South Hall population, which is exploding,” Nash said.

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Work crews install an entrance shelter Friday, June 11, 2021, as Braselton hospital's Medical Plaza 1 building adds a cancer center. - photo by Scott Rogers