By Sally Voth - email@example.com
Valley Health hopes to continue growing.
A proposed $34.7 million cancer center on the Winchester Medical Center campus will be the subject of an Oct. 10 public hearing.
Valley Health has submitted a certificate of public need to build the 47,000-square-foot facility to the Virginia Department of Health, CEO Mark H. Merrill said.
"It would be an enhancement of services to include medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology and support [under one roof]," he said.
Currently, some of those departments are in separate buildings.
There also is a need for more cancer treatment rooms, Merrill said, and the center would "give us an opportunity to grow, give us new technology," Merrill said. "We're also working to enhance our surgery capability."
Merrill said the hospital hopes to be able to start building the center by the end of next year.
Valley Health Corporate Service Lines Vice President Suanne Thurman-Gersdorf was involved in planning the center while serving as executive director for oncology and surgery.
She described the hospital's current cancer department as "excellent," especially with the addition of a surgical oncologist and a thoracic surgeon, as well as the upcoming implementation of stereotactic radiosurgery, which targets radiation therapy for intracranial tumors.
"We have a pretty extraordinary program," Thurman-Gersdorf said. "What we have lacked is the ability to bring it all together in one place so that the path of the patient is smooth, and that the physicians who are caring for the patient can be together in one place."
The center would include space for future radiological technology and additional surgical sub-specialties, she said.
"This is just the right way to take care of patients," Thurman-Gersdorf said. "With the addition of our surgical oncologist and thoracic surgeon, there's very little that patients need to leave town for."
She added that pediatric and complex gynecological cancers aren't handled at Winchester Medical Center.
The health department should make a decision on the certificate of public need by the end of this year or early next, she said. The public hearing is 1 p.m. Oct. 10 at Handley Library.