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New $15M cancer treatment area planned for Johnson City Medical Center; capital campaign announced

Staff Report • Sep 5, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Johnson City Medical Center would get a $15 million expanded and renovated radiation oncology department under a fundraising announced Thursday by the Mountain States Foundation.

“Most of us have been touched by cancer in some way, whether we have faced the disease ourselves or helped a loved one through the battle,” Pat Holtsclaw, Mountain States Foundation president, said in a news release. “The Foundation is proud to be supporting this project, which is so greatly needed by the folks who are facing cancer in our area.”

JCMC’s new radiation oncology center will be housed in the lower level of the hospital’s new surgery tower, which is under construction. The radiation oncology center will expand from 16,700 square feet to 35,700, and will go from five exam rooms to 12.

The current radiation oncology center inside JCMC was constructed in 1988. In the mid-1990s, the center saw about 12 patients per day. Today, however, the daily patient volume is close to 80, meaning that many patients must schedule their procedures early in the morning or late in the evening.

With Foundation funds, the hospital also plans to purchase a new linear accelerator, the Varian TrueBeam radiation system. The highly focused beams from this piece of technology allow physicians to target cancer cells with pinpoint accuracy while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. This allows some patients to be treated in a shorter length of time with fewer side effects.

“JCMC and MSHA have long been the technology leader in cancer care for our region. We believe that this latest addition continues to place us in a position to provide our patients with the very best care available,” Dr. Kyle Colvett, a radiation oncologist and medical director of JCMC’s radiation therapy center, said in the news release.

The construction and renovation project will also add a medical library for patients, a chapel, and a separate waiting area and entrance for children. The total cost of the project is $15 million, and the Foundation has committed to raising $7 million toward that goal.

“During the silent phase of our fundraising efforts, the Foundation has already raised half of our total goal,” said Clarinda Jeanes, the chairperson for the campaign. “We are eager to finish the remainder of the campaign with strong support from the community so that the new linear accelerator can be installed and begin helping patients.”

For more information about the campaign or to make a donation, visit the Foundation's website or call 423-302-3131.

Check back with JohnsonCityPress.com and Friday's print edition for a full story on the project from Staff Writer Nathan Baker.

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