Phoebe Putney opens Medical Tower II

Published 3:13 pm Friday, February 20, 2009

Opening Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s Medical Tower II means greater access to more cancer treatment options and services for residents of Southwest Georgia.

Phoebe’s newest addition houses the Phillip L. Roberts M.D. Cancer Pavilion, featuring expanded hematology and medical oncology services.

Medical Tower II represents the last component of a 20-year development plan and the expansion of Phoebe’s growing Cancer Treatment Center, said Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital President/CEO Joel Wernick.

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The new Tower is “the last piece of the puzzle of a 20-year plan started in 1988,” Wernick said. “Our success has been a board of directors that looks into the future.”

Wernick said that when he arrived at Phoebe in 1988, the hospital suffered from a great shortage of space. At that time, the hospital board made plans to expand the hospital and to move the organization toward becoming a major teaching facility.

Throughout that time, Phoebe’s Cancer Treatment Center has grown to become “one of the busiest cancer treatment centers in the Southeast,” Wernick said.

Two floors of the expanded Phoebe Cancer Center were dedicated to Hematologist/Oncologist Dr. Phillip Roberts, who joined Phoebe in 1990 after being in private practice for 10 years in Albany and was Southwest Georgia’s first medical oncologist.

According to Roberts, the hospital has experienced a 15 to 20 percent growth in the number of cancer cases treated each year. Exceeding that growth has been the number of treatment options available to patients.

With the opening of Medical Tower II, plans are to expand cancer clinical trials, which currently has 20 open trials available to qualified cancer patients. The new tower also provides for patient convenience, the expansion of social services programs and treatment options for the 1,300 new cases Phoebe receives every year.

Phoebe has eight full-time oncologists, who see 25 patients a day, said Roberts. Not all cancer patients who visit Phoebe see physicians, but may be receiving regular treatments.

“The growth has been so phenomenal,” Roberts said.

Under the roof of the $46.1 million Medical Tower II are 165,000 square feet, nearly half of which is dedicated to Hematology/Oncology.

The Tower includes 25 new examination rooms, 40 new infusion-chemotherapy stations, a bone marrow transplant room, a laboratory, a pharmacy and an area set aside for patient education.

The rest of the five-story building (plus the basement) is planned for physician lease space, guest accommodations and other hospital space.

Inside the new tower are a few architectural features added to create a tranquil setting conducive to healing, including a 28-by-16-foot art wall with special lighting in the rotunda, and a renovated fountain that was previously in Medical Tower I.

Tower II also includes the Centennial Sky Bridge on the second floor that adjoins Phoebe’s existing parking garage located on Second Avenue. The new sky bridge allows safe and convenient access for patients and visitors.

“This is an investment in Dougherty County that actually benefits Southwest Georgia,” Wernick said.

About 50 percent of the patients who come to Phoebe live outside of Dougherty County.