St. Mary's Cancer Center at JCMG (Jefferson City Medical Group) will open its doors to cancer patients Monday.
"For us, this is about understanding and reflection of the true needs of the community and the patient base," said Brian Barry, regional vice president of the ambulatory network at St. Mary's Health Center. "Cancer care is a large problem, and many people travel for it. We're expanding this service, and even recruited and added a physician."
The St. Mary's Foundation funded the $6 million facility, is located on JCMG's campus at 1241 W. Stadium Blvd.
"With the building of their (JCMG's) third building, we saw an opportunity to place radiology with the oncology unit they (JCMG) had," Barry said. "We felt it was appropriate to explore what it looked like with JCMG."
Dr. Rolando Breier, who has been an oncologist at JCMG for three years, said the creation of the Cancer Center makes the site a one-stop shop for cancer patients.
"Basically, it's going to give them more complete care and easier access to cancer care," he said.
The opening of the Cancer Center adds a radiation department to the already existing hematology/oncology unit, run by oncologists Breier and Dr. Douglas Laux.
St. Mary's recruited specialty physician Dr. John Bechtel to serve as the Cancer Center's radiation oncologist.
Bechtel grew up on Route C near Russellville. He completed his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Missouri-Columbia and his residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Prior to coming to St. Mary's Health Center, he was a radiation oncologist at St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis.
Bechtel and Barry said the Cancer Center allows cancer patients easy access to JCMG's large group of specialty physicians outside of oncology.
The center has its own entrance, located between JCMG's main entrance and the entrance to the Women's and Children's wing. An elevator just inside the entrance takes patients and visitors to the Cancer Center, located on the second floor.
The elevator opens to a waiting area and the Richard J. Wilson Cancer Resource Room. The Resource Room has a fireplace, dolls with interchangeable wigs, books, computers and pamphlets on various cancers and treatments. It's meant to provide additional information and resources to cancer patients and their families.
While hematology/oncology has been a service at JCMG for some time, the newly added radiation department features three exam rooms, as well as a CT scanner and a $2.6 million linear accelerator that provides external beam radiation therapy for cancer patients.
The linear accelerator is a machine housed in what Barry calls a "vault" - a large concrete room on stilts with concrete walls 6-feet thick.
In addition to the concrete walls, a lead door that weighs several tons separates patients from the radiation therapists during treatments.
While the the device will be used to treat many types of cancer, Bechtel said the top three cancers it will most likely treat are breast, prostate and lung cancer.
"It will be the patients whose cancers spread," he said.
The Cancer Center opens Monday, but Bechtel said he expects business to ramp up.
"We have three consults scheduled for Monday," he said. "I think it will take some time for people to figure out that we're here."
You may join St. Mary's and JCMG for an open house and ribbon cutting for the St. Mary's Cancer Center at JCMG from 9-11 a.m. April 26 at the center.
To learn more or to make an appointment call Oncology/Hematology at 573-556-7718 or Radiation Oncology at 573-635-2282. You may also visit cancercarejc.com for additional information.