Flipping the Script on Cancer
How specialists and a new cancer center at Meadows Health
are working to improve cancer outcomes in Toombs County
Did you know there is a place,
right here in Vidalia, where a team of
specialists is working to change cancer
outcomes in our community?
In fact, that’s exactly what the cancer
specialists at Meadows Health are striving
to do, said Meadows Health CEO Alan Kent
“When we look at the most prevalent
cancers here in Georgia, or what we call
the ‘Big Four,’ we are acutely aware that
lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer
impact the health of our residents the
most,” he said.
As Kent went on to say, it was statistics
like these that compelled hospital leaders
to want to “do something” to improve both
access to cancer care and outcomes in the
greater Vidalia area.
As it turned out, that “something” was
to continue the regional health center’s
mission of bringing specialty services to
the area by building a state-of-the-art
cancer center where it was needed most –
in the heart of Toombs County.
Named for its generous benefactors,
the Tommy and Shirley Strickland
Cancer Center today offers cutting-edge
technology, advanced clinical care and a
range of cancer services – including both
radiation and chemotherapy – all under
“Introducing radiation oncology alone
was a huge game changer,” Kent said.
“Before we added radiation, patients were
having to drive to Dublin or Statesboro,
some 30 to 45 minutes away, for treatment.”
And as Kent pointed out, while many
cancer patients need radiation treatment,
a good many more will need both
chemotherapy and radiation.
“You can see where this would be
tough on patients who may need one or
both treatments to have to drive from one
place to another,” he said.
Pulling services together in one place
was not only critical for the convenience it
offered patients, but in other ways as well.
“Having all our specialists in one place
increases collaboration,” Kent said. “So
again, the benefit is to patients who have
access not only to advanced medicine and
state-of-the-art equipment, but to that
continuity of care that comes from having
all of these specialists and services under
DESIGNED FOR PATIENTS
When it came to the actual layout of the
cancer center every aspect was designed
with the patient in mind – from large,
private chemotherapy suites, to plenty
of patient parking directly in front of the
center’s main entrance.
This “patient first” approach also
extends to the type of care patients
receive when they come to the center for
“As our cancer specialists will tell you,
cancer can affect every aspect of a patient’s
health and well-being,” Kent said. “That’s
why our center has embraced this patientfocused,
holistic model of care.”
When a patient is first referred to the
center, for example, that person meets with
his or her physician who then develops a
customized care plan.
He or she may then meet with a
nurse navigator, or someone who helps
patients navigate the healthcare system.
She also helps to identify any barriers to
care the patient may have, such as a lack of
The center’s Tumor Board may also
discuss the patient’s case. Comprised of
cancer center specialists and other staff or
physicians from the hospital, the Tumor
Board meets once a month for the sole
purpose of discussing the most appropriate
course of treatment for individual patients.
“This is what we call the ‘Gold Standard
of Care,’” Kent said. “So whether it’s the
Tumor Board taking up your case, or a
radiologist walking down the hall to have
a consult with an oncologist, we believe all
of these things working together are going
to change the story of cancer here in our
COMPREHENSIVE C A R E
The 20,000-square-foot Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center features:
• An array of cancer services including both radiation and chemotherapy.
• Advanced technology such as a dedicated CT simulator and a linear accelerator
for precisely targeted radiation treatment.
• A team of cancer specialists including medical oncologists, surgeons, support
specialists and a nurse navigator.
• Comfortable and private chemotherapy suites large enough to accommodate
patients and their families.
Meadows Health is a regional health system featuring:
• The only nationally accredited hospital in Montgomery, Toombs, Treutlen and
Tattnall counties. Includes six surgical suites, which are among the most advanced
in the state.
• A large emergency department with 22 trauma, diagnostic and treatment rooms.
• A Women’s Pavilion with large, spacious labor and delivery suites and state-of-theart
• An ultra-modern cardiovascular lab where physicians provide diagnostic and
interventional cardiology services such as angioplasty and heart catheterizations.
• A network of physician practices that serve Vidalia and the surrounding
8 Toombs County Magazine