Patients turn to Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University (Winship) for comprehensive cancer care. Soon they'll be able to rely on it for oncology-related urgent care as well.
Funded by a multi-million dollar gift from The Ma-Ran Foundation, Winship will establish an immediate care facility to bridge the gap between cancer centers and emergency rooms. The Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship at Emory University Hospital is expected to open in spring 2022.
"Cancer patients need to know that when they are at their most vulnerable, there is a place where oncology-trained experts can provide urgent and immediate care," says Sagar Lonial, MD, chief medical officer of Winship. "Knowing that Winship is there when they most need care is an enormous comfort for patients."
On average, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are more likely than people without cancer to visit the emergency room and need hospitalization.
Even so, most report only a small fraction of their symptoms – like pain, nausea and dehydration – to their care team. Having a dedicated cancer urgent care center would improve patient care by making cancer treatment plans seamless while also helping patients avoid exposure to infectious diseases in emergency waiting rooms.
Winship piloted the idea in 2020, creating a separate urgent care area to see and treat cancer patients who had been exposed to COVID-19, or suspected they had been. The model showed the need for a permanent cancer immediate care center.
The Ma-Ran Foundation has made an investment of $7 million to establish the Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship that includes an endowment of $3 million. The endowment’s distribution will provide funding for a variety of research projects and programs for cancer patients. Some examples include outcomes research designed to inform and improve the patient experience, and funding for "soft touch" amenities which are important to patients in stressful situations.
"Improving cancer treatment has not only been a forefront topic of health care, but also a personal matter that connects many of us in the community," says Pamela R. Rollins, a trustee of The Ma-Ran Foundation and a member of the Winship Board of Advisors. "Together with Emory, the Rollins family and the Foundation take pride in our ability to play a role in caring for cancer patients, paving the way for new research and medical education opportunities, and making the cancer immediate care center concept possible at a pivotal time for public health in Georgia."
Winship, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center, plans to house the urgent care center on the fourth floor of the Emory University Hospital Tower, adjacent to the Phase 1 Clinical Trials Unit and newly constructed Winship Cellular Therapy Unit. This space will provide 11 exam rooms, with three dedicated procedure clinics during peak shifts. The design of the new center will be guided by a multi-disciplinary team of patients, nurses, physicians and research staff. The project is expected to begin summer 2021, requiring 18 months to complete.
A separate cancer immediate care facility is also planned for Winship at Emory Midtown, a new 17-story tower which is under construction.