FLORENCE, Ala. – Looking to enhance healthcare services in the Shoals, officials with Northwest Alabama Cancer Care LLC, a partnership between RCHP Florence LLC and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System, have filed a Letter of Intent with the State of Alabama Certificate of Need Board for construction of Northwest Alabama Cancer Center.
This comprehensive cancer treatment facility would expand ECM Hospital’s current treatment services, while adding the latest technology and resources from the UAB Health System.
“We are excited to join our partners at the UAB Health System as we take this first step in developing a comprehensive regional cancer center,” said Russell Pigg, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital CEO. “It is imperative that people from North Alabama and beyond be able to receive advanced levels of cancer care close to home. I’m hopeful the Certificate of Need process moves quickly because it can impact so many patients and families fighting cancer.”
With construction on track at the site of ECM Hospital’s replacement facility, the cancer center is slated to be built adjacent to North Alabama Medical Center, along Veterans Drive in Florence. The location of Northwest Alabama Cancer Center allows for better integration that will make cancer treatment easier and more convenient for patients.
“As we continue to expand the presence of the UAB Health System Cancer Community Network around Alabama and beyond, we are looking forward to extending the knowledge and presence of UAB cancer and radiation oncology services to the residents of northwest Alabama,” said Dr. Jim Bonner, chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at UAB.
ECM Hospital first partnered with UAB in 2011 for a strategic collaboration. “UAB has been a great partner for our hospital and our community,” Pigg said. “This cancer center partnership more closely aligns North Alabama Medical Center with the UAB Health System, the state’s leading health organization. We are committed to providing the highest-quality compassionate health care, and we’re confident this association with the UAB Health System will help achieve that commitment. This partnership will bring UAB cancer knowledge and therapies to this part of the state, which is a huge asset to patients and shows our interest as an organization in enhancing quality clinical care and new services.”
Construction for Northwest Alabama Cancer Center will begin as soon as the Certificate of Need application is approved.
As a pharmaceutical representative, Justin Sappington serves hundreds of doctors in the Shoals. However, it was the diagnosis from one doctor that left Sappington scrambling for answers. In October, Sappington was diagnosed with Myeloid Dysplasia Syndrome. MDS is a blood cancer where the bone marrow cells do not mature into healthy blood cells. Sappington’s best hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. Like 70 percent of all patients, Sappington does not have a matching donor in his family.
“When I found out I didn’t have a match in my family, I didn’t give up hope. I was familiar with the Be the Match organization and reached out to start holding bone marrow donor drives around north Alabama,” said Sappington.
Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital is partnering with the national organization, Be the Match, to host a bone marrow registry drive Tuesday, January 31st from 7:00 am-1:00 pm in the lobby.
To join the Be the Match registry, donors must be between the ages of 18 and 44, be in general good health and be willing to donate to any patient needing a bone marrow transplant. The non-invasive registration process through Be the Match consists of paperwork and a cheek swab on the day of the drive. Be the Match sends the swabs to a lab where the DNA donor type is identified and logged in a national registry. Hospitals can search the Be the Match registry.
“It’s amazing that people are willing to be a potential bone marrow donor to a complete stranger,” said Sappington. “These donors may not be a match with me, but if they match with someone else needing a donor, then that’s a win. It is my prayer that God is glorified by all of those willing to be donors and give others another chance at life. Thank you to ECM Hospital and the entire Shoals community.”
About Justin Sappington
Justin Sappington played football at UNA from 1995-1999.
He currently lives in Decatur with his two children and wife.
About Be the Match
Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer
Be the Match facilitated nearly 6,400 transplants in 2015
A patient’s likelihood of having a matched, available donor on the Be the Match registry ranges from 66 percent to 97 percent
About 1 in every 430 U.S. Be the Match registry members go on to donate to a patient
[Photo Courtesy of The Times Daily/Matt McKean]
The Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary and the Helping Hands Foundation recently launched ‘Pajamas for Patients’. The program is designed to provide comfort and dignity for our adult patients who find themselves unexpectedly admitted to the hospital or without the resources for sleepwear.
“During an emergency or an extended hospital stay, pajamas are not the first thing that may come to mind. People are focused on getting well, however having something to sleep in, besides a hospital gown, can help people feel more comfortable,” said Amy Stanfield, ECM Volunteer Services manager. “The patients can take the pajamas with them when they are discharged, and often times the patients wear the pajamas home, because it’s the only possessions they have, while at the hospital.”
After an initial donation by Helping Hands, the supply of pajamas is low. The Volunteer Auxiliary is asking for donations from members of the community to replenish the supply. Since the start of the program in October 2016, nearly 120 sets of pajamas have been given to patients. Pajama sets can be dropped off at the ECM Patient Information Desk in the lobby.
“Right now we have just two sets of pajamas left. We don’t want to run out because our nurses have come to rely on this program for their patients. When they notice a need, they let our department know,” said Stanfield.
Donations should be new pajamas. The Volunteer Auxiliary will accept all sizes for men and women or monetary donations. Pajama tops and bottoms or sweat outfits are recommended. If you would like to make a donation, please drop off items at the Patient Information desk in the front lobby.