On Monday, April 18, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University will open the first immediate cancer care center in Georgia.
The Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship at Emory University Hospital bridges the gap between the cancer center and the emergency room by providing acute care for Winship patients experiencing cancer-related symptoms that require immediate medical care.
"Our patients at Winship deserve immediate care from oncology-trained experts," says Sagar Lonial, MD, chief medical officer of Winship. "We want our patients to take comfort in knowing that Winship is there when they need us most."
When patients with cancer have symptoms or side effects – such as acute pain, bleeding, high fevers, vomiting – that require immediate medical care but are not life-threatening, they typically visit the emergency room. At the Rollins Immediate Care Center, Winship's patients see oncologists, oncology nurses and nurse practitioners, who are trained to deliver specialized triage, diagnostics and treatments that are often unique to patients with cancer. While the emergency room, and hospitalization, may still be needed for oncology patients with more serious and complex issues, an immediate cancer care center can address less serious issues related to cancer that need pressing attention. Having an immediate care center dedicated to patients with cancer and staffed by oncology specialists makes the patients' cancer care seamless.
"With advancements made in cancer research, the model for cancer care delivery is advancing too," says Matt Wain, chief executive officer of Emory University Hospital. "Specialized immediate care dedicated to the needs of patients with cancer is the model of the future, and we're bringing that model to our patients at Emory University Hospital through the Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship."
Winship is a pioneer among immediate cancer care centers; less than a quarter of cancer centers nationwide provide immediate care. Winship piloted the idea in 2020, creating a separate immediate care area to see and treat their oncology patients who had been exposed to COVID-19, or suspected they had been. The pilot showed the need for a permanent immediate cancer care center.
"Patients are at the center of all we do at Winship Cancer Institute. Thanks to a generous gift from The Ma-Ran Foundation, this facility will allow for patients with less serious medical conditions to avoid the emergency room and receive their care," says Suresh Ramalingam, MD, executive director of Winship. "The Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship is the culmination of innovation to best serve those in our care."
The Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship was funded by a $7 million investment from The Ma-Ran Foundation. The gift includes an endowment of $3 million, which provides funding for a variety of research projects and programs designed to inform and improve the oncology patient experience.
"Improving cancer care benefits not only the health care field but also the public health of our Georgia community," says Pamela R. Rollins, a trustee of The Ma-Ran Foundation and a member of the Winship Board of Advisors. "The Rollins family and the foundation are proud to support Winship in bringing the immediate cancer care center concept to life."
The design of the Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship was guided by input from patients, nurses, physicians and research staff. The new center provides nine exam rooms and four treatment rooms. It was constructed in eight months and is located on the fourth floor of the Emory University Hospital Tower, adjacent to Winship's Phase I Clinical Trials Unit and Winship Cellular Therapy Unit.
A second immediate cancer care facility is also planned for Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Midtown, a new 17-story tower under construction and slated to open in spring 2023.
The Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship is available for oncology patients at Emory Healthcare (including all Emory Hospitals and Emory Clinics) and is accessed through referral from the patient's cancer care team.