Moving Cancer Care Forward
Meadows Teams with Oncology Network
A new partnership at Memorial Health Meadows Hospital has moved cancer treatment for area residents into its next phase. Since 2005, Meadows has provided highquality cancer treatment to Vidalia and the surrounding area. With the opening of the Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center at Meadows in 2016 cancer care in Vidalia was greatly expanded and brought closer to home. Now, an alliance with Low Country Cancer Specialists (LCCC), a division of the American Oncology Network (AON), will offer an opportunity for both continuity and growth of cancer care in this region. “We’re excited to provide consistent, stateof- the art, advanced treatments for the long term. With Low Country Cancer Specialists, we will be able to have strong, consistent experts in Medical Oncology providing care here in Vidalia.” said Matt S. Hasbrouck, Chief Executive Officer for Meadows.
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Jeff Harden, Chief Nursing Officer at Meadows, is the administrator responsible for the Cancer Center. He explained that the transition that is taking place will be seamless for the Center’s patients. “Nothing changes from the look and feel of the Center and care for the patient. We are still the Strickland Cancer Center, but what we are doing is ensuring that we bolster our medical oncology presence by having a consistent group of medical oncologists here to provide that care.”
Dr. Sreekanth Reddy, who has already begun seeing patients at the Strickland Cancer Center, is the first oncologist to be joining the Meadows medical staff and will be operating a medical oncology practice at the Center. Dr. Reddy will be at the clinic two days a week, Dr. Reddy said. Dr. Reddy is one of five full- or part-time medical oncologists who will be serving this region. Meadows is actively recruiting another full-time oncologist who will join Dr. Reddy soon.
May 1 is the date for the formal transition when LCCC/AON will take charge at the Center. “The model is to have two fulltime medical oncologists here with three part-time physicians in rotation. This will create the continuity and stability the community is looking for,” Hasbrouck explained.
“We’ll have access to advanced clinical treatment, clinical trials, and research. For us to be able to work with a larger cancer oncology network and bring it to Vidalia for our patients, to me that is bringing the latest in advanced care closer to home, just like we’ve done on our recent addition of robotic surgery,” Hasbrouck added.
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Dr. George Negrea, who will be an integral part of the Strickland Cancer Center’s future, is a medical oncologist and hematologist with LCCC, and worked with Hasbrouck when he served as Chief Operating Officer at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah. Hasbrouck left Memorial to join Meadows as its new CEO in 2021. After founding his practice in Savannah in 2004, Dr. Negrea decided to align with AON in 2020. “It was a very successful, advantageous move for us. We have been able to enhance services for patients with AON.” He said LCCC doubled its staff in Savannah with the AON partnership and further expanded its network of care. He believes Vidalia will benefit in the same way. “What we are bringing to Vidalia will enhance and elevate the level of care. The Strickland Cancer Center will continue to grow as a center of excellence,” Dr. Negrea noted. He added that by building on the foundation already established at Meadows, he envisions the Strickland Cen-
14A WCHS BUS SHOP CONSTRUCTION — Wheeler County High School has given the Construction and Carpentry classes an opportunity to have a hands-on project, building the upcoming bus shop. The students are building two bathrooms and two offices, and installing walls, doors, electrical, and insulation. They are learning how to cut with advanced machinery, how to work the advanced tools, and are learning construction skills. Left Photo: Molly Bridges; Right Photo: Alexis Ramirez and Donnie Horton, WCS Construction and Carpentry teacher.
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ter becoming an integral part of the overall program where Vidalia oncologists can take advantage of the collective experience and expertise of a wide scope of surgeons, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and others.
Hasbrouck reinforced, “All of this will be under the banner of Meadows and the Strickland Cancer Center. The Center’s Radiation-Oncology component will continue to be directly operated through the team here.” Samantha Walker, who has been with Meadows for 15 years, will continue to lead the overall cancer program.
Harden emphasized, “One of things I am so excited about is that the medical oncology and radiology services function as one team. We are committed to keep a collaborative approach.”
Harden noted that one of the biggest wins for patients at the Center, as Meadows has progressed through recent transitions, is consistently having a dedicated nursing, lab and front office staff, financial navigators, financial counselors and Samantha Walker, “who is second to none.”
That team will continue forward and stay in their current roles and capacities, but will be joining a network that will be able to offer additional educational and networking opportunities, and a chance for professional growth. And that staff is expected to grow staff as the program grows.
After his first week at the Center, Dr. Reddy praised the “wonderful patients, staff, and facility,” and noted, “One thing the patients are really excited about is that they will be seeing the same doctor going through their journey. I think that it is very important to have that sense of permanence.”
Samantha Walker said she loves telling the story of how the community has been the catalyst/foundation for the Strickland Cancer Center. She came on board in 2005 when the cancer treatment was located at the former Meadows Hospital site on Meadows Lane. Cancer care moved with Meadows to its new building in 2011 but soon after, a community-wide campaign was begun to build a Cancer Center as an independent structure on the campus of Meadows Hospital.
It was a “huge investment” of time and labor which garnered tremendous community backing, she said. Hospital employees demonstrated their support through a program called, “The Choice,” which allowed them to contribute to the construction of the Center through payroll deduction for up to two years. A wall at the Center lists the names of each of those employees. “It is the backbone and foundation for what we have here,” Walker said of those who donated to and advocated for the Center. “The building is bricks and mortar, but when we walk through the lobby, we see plaques that are a tangible representation of our community, patients, neighbors, and their huge donations. They wanted this Center to be here.” The new alliance honors that legacy.
“We are privileged to have this Center here. It is a gem. We are grateful to be a part of it, and we have a responsibility and commitment to continue ensuring the community has access to the best cancer treatment,” Hasbrouck said.
Hasbrouck concluded, “The Center will have access to a dozen tumor boards at Memorial which are specific to various tumor sites. Dr. Negrea and his team, as well as subspecialists, radiologists, pathologists, cardio-thoracic surgeons and others who are part of a multidisciplined group, will make decisions with Meadows as a team. The Center can access the latest clinical therapies, clinical trials, and research studies across the network. That is powerful to be bringing that here for our patients.” About the Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Treatment Center The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center at Meadows offers the latest in chemotherapy and radiation technology to South Georgia. In addition to the offering the area’s top oncologists, surgeons and support specialists who work collectively to create personalized treatment plans, the Center provides a nurse navigator who offers guidance and support throughout the treatment; a nutritionist who provides a customized nutrition plan as needed; physical therapists to help patients maintain strength during treatment and recovery; as well as survivor coordinators to provide post-treatment support. The Center also offers connections to support groups for patients and their families. About Low Country Cancer Care (LCCC) The LCCC team also has a practice at the Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute (ACI) in Savannah. Since starting ACI, the LCCC team has enhanced cancer services, improved patient access and doubled the number of physicians providing cancer care at this location.
In conjunction with AON, LCCC offers a complete service line of medical cancer care with in-house lab, pathology, infusion and specialty pharmacy services. Patients benefit from faster results with AON pathology and less wait times for certain oral cancer medications with AON pharmacy.
Services include diagnosis, treatment, care management and patient support.
LCCC participates in the Oncology Care Model, a national healthcare initiative which seeks to provide higher quality, better coordinated oncology care at lower cost. About the American Oncology Network (AON) “We’re excited about this partnership,” said Shelly Glenn, Chief Growth and Relationship Officer for AON. “We started the organization in 2018. Now we have 170 providers in more than 70 locations n 16 states, from Washington State to Brunswick, Georgia.”
AON is an alliance of physicians and healthcare leaders dedicated to ensuring the long-term success and viability of oncology and hematology diagnosis and treatment in community- based settings. It is the fasted growing network of community oncology practices delivering oncology practices delivering local access to cancer care.