Originally created 07/10/02

Hospital plans cancer center



Aiken Regional Medical Centers will begin $15 million of renovation and construction next week that hospital officials say will ensure faster and more comfortable care.

In addition to improvements to existing hospital services, Aiken Regional has plans to construct a 15,000-square-foot cancer center near its existing facility on University Parkway.

CEO K.D. Justyn said Tuesday the facility is needed to meet Aiken's rapidly growing population. Although plans are in the preliminary stages, she said the center will offer the latest technology in chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

"The closer you can get care to your home, the better," said Ms. Justyn, commenting on how physically demanding cancer treatment can be.

Aiken Regional is awaiting approval from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. Construction is months away, Ms. Justyn said.

Work to accommodate new X-ray equipment will begin Monday, she said. The hospital is remodeling to make way for a new CT scan and MRI - magnetic resonance imaging - equipment and cardiovascular imaging technology.

The machinery is set to arrive within the next three to four months, Ms. Justyn said.

The hospital has been relying in part on mobile units.

The technology is more comfortable for patients, faster and produces clearer internal images of the human body, radiologists said.

"We can provide information to physicians in four to five minutes rather than 30 to 40 minutes" with the improved equipment, Dr. Paul Forsyth said.

Aiken Regional also is remodeling its fifth floor to create 35 private rooms. Seventy-eight percent of the hospital's rooms will soon offer complete privacy.

"That's what the community is anxious to hear," Ms. Justyn said. "That's the No. 1 request we get."

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803)279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.