Piedmont Henry affiliates with cancer network

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Cancer patients in Henry County now have a new ally in their fight against the disease.

Piedmont Henry Hospital has established an affiliation with the MD Anderson Cancer Network, a program of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Piedmont Henry Hospital recently announced its affiliation with the MD Anderson Cancer Network. L. to r.: John Henson, Chief of Oncology Services at Piedmont Healthcare; Melanie Wong, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for the MD Anderson Physicians Network; Charlie Scott, Chief Executive Officer at Piedmont Henry; and John Goodman, Executive Director of Oncology Services at Piedmont Healthcare. Photo by Jason A. Smith

The hospital, the network and Piedmont Healthcare celebrated the new partnership Jan. 20. Piedmont Henry’s Chief Executive Officer, Charles F. Scott, said the affiliation enables patients to take advantage of resources provided by what is likely “the world’s most renowned cancer center.”

“We have access to protocols, we have access to consultation, patients have access to the latest treatments, the physicians have resources available to them through MD Anderson to bring to Henry County, to help in the treatment of Henry County residents in their fight against cancer,” said Scott. “I think, in addition to saving lives, this relationship and the further advancement of the cancer network at Henry will provide a better quality of life for patients as they go through the treatment process.”

As an example, Scott points to patient navigators that direct people to the resources they need in their battle against cancer, and wellness programs designed to help people cope with various aspects of cancer, a disease which claimed the lives of 16,630 in Georgia in 2015.

“We have other services that will help make their cancer experience – even as traumatic as it is – perhaps a little less traumatic, a little less challenging and difficult for them because of the resources that we are able to bring to our patients who suffer from cancer,” he continued. “It’s not just the patients. It’s the whole family. Everybody else who associates with cancer patients suffers as well. So part of what we want to do is to help relieve the suffering and the anxiety for families as well, so they can better cope with their loved ones and be more knowledgeable and more educated, with the assurance that they’re in the best hands possible.”

Melanie Wong is the vice president of Strategy and Business Development for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She noted with the affiliation, Piedmont Henry becomes one of 16 certified members in partnership with MD Anderson throughout the country, with a focus on “evidence-based multidisciplinary care.”

“We truly believe that that is the best way to treat patients,” said Wong. “Basically what it is, is the ability to pull a patient into one room and bring all of the doctors that support that patient together where that patient is. So the patient doesn’t have to travel to different sites, and the patient gets the multidisciplinary treatment planning of all the doctors who will be caring for that patient.”

MD Anderson was established about 75 years ago. Wong said the facility, which she calls an “academic medical institute,” is well-regarded for its efforts in the fight against cancer.

“Our mandate is to share our knowledge. We have been No. 1 or 2 in U.S. News and World Report over the last 25 years, of cancer centers in the United States. We have 1,700 faculty all dedicated to one mission, to eliminate cancer. There have been amazing breakthroughs made in really truncating the cycle time of cancer treatment, to shorter and shorter periods of time – hopefully driving cancer to being treated like a chronic disease rather than a life-ending disease.”

Piedmont Henry is now the fourth facility in the Piedmont system to link with MD Anderson, along with Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Piedmont Fayette and Piedmont Newnan. According to Piedmont Healthcare’s Chief of Oncology Services, Dr. John Henson, the affiliation creates a “practical way of getting a second opinion about a very complex cancer patient.”

“We do about 400 of those consults a year,” said Henson. “It’s a lot. So that gives patients here at Henry direct access, if you will, to specialists. It also helps bring our physicians together, I think, in a more coherent team, which is very valuable. I think those are remarkable values that this community gets out of the MD Anderson affiliation.”