Ga. city seeks to be medical destination





NEWNAN, Ga. -- An Atlanta suburb is making a step toward becoming what cities like Augusta, Athens and Savannah aspire to one day, a magnet for patients and their families.

Wednesday, state and local officials were on hand for the ground-breaking ceremony for a $150 million cancer hospital that aims to draw two-thirds of its patients from out of the state. The economic impact of that 50-bed private hospital is estimated at $500 million during its first five years of operation, according to its owners, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

About a mile away, Piedmont Healthcare is constructing a 136-bed, full-service hospital. Piedmont’s commitment to build was a factor in Cancer Treatment Centers’ location decision.

“We felt if they were willing to invest in this part of metro Atlanta the way that they have, then it should make sense for us,” said David Kent, vice president of operations of CTCA’s Newnan facility. “We look forward to partnering with them in any way we can and the whole healthcare community down here in the southern part of Atlanta.”

Modern hospitals not only attract patients but also doctors. Having two under development in the same area could multiply the attraction of each of them individually. That’s because neither would be large enough to attract some specialists by themselves, but a neurologist or plastic surgeon affiliated with both could develop a flourishing practice that also drew out-of-town patients, according to Dr. Steven Staniford, medical chief of staff at CTCA’s Philadelphia hospital.

CTCA reports that its patients typically travel 500 miles for treatment in one of its four existing hospitals because of the aggressive treatments offered. Most private insurance covers the travel costs.

As a result, patients of the company’s Philadelphia hospital fill 100-150 hotel beds per night, according to that facility’s president, John McNeil.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle predicted local support for CTCA’s efforts to make a medical destination of Newnan and Coweta County, which is about the same population as Athens-Clarke County.

“This community is going to rally around your success,” he said. “The state of Georgia will, too.”

Georgia relaxed its laws controlling the construction of new hospitals for CTCA. The sponsor of the legislation, Senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams, said removal of government barriers was critical to replicating Newnan’s success.



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