Novant Health Rowan sets sail on $12 million campaign for Cancer Care Center

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 16, 2018

SALISBURY — Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation launched its $12 million campaign for a new Cancer Care Center on Thursday night.

“By Jiminy, we’re going to do this,” said Rick Parker, executive director of the foundation, the hospital’s fund-raising arm.

Until now, the campaign for the Cancer Care Center has been a quiet one, but it still has managed to raise $2.4 million. Altogether, the Cancer Care Center represents a $24 million project, with parent Novant Health providing $12 million of the total.

The other $12 million has to be raised locally.

Parker said the goal is to break ground on the center by December and be treating patients a year later.

The foundation has design drawings of how the Cancer Care Center will look. It will be at the corner of Mahaley and Mocksville avenues, next to Rowan Diagnostic and across Mocksville Avenue from the main hospital.

The site in question is currently a hospital parking lot.

The foundation held its fifth “Docs & Hops” gathering Thursday night in the expansive upstairs area of City Tavern. Close to 100 people attended, and they heard personal testimonials and answers to questions from Parker, oncologist Dr. William “Brink” Brinkley and nurse navigator Jill McNeely.

“We’re real excited about this project,” said McNeely, who predicted a Cancer Care Center would provide state-of-the-art technology that will cure many patients.

Goals of the center — according to foundation promotional materials — would be to increase accessibility and affordability, enhance the coordination of care, make patient care more personalized and provide leading-edge treatment.

Components of the Cancer Care Center would include medical and radiation oncology; PET imaging; an infusion center; palliative care; lab, imaging and screening; nurse navigation; integrative medicine; genetic counseling; psychosocial support; a resource library; pharmacy; conference room; classroom; and the Look Good, Feel Good Boutique.

Parker said having all these services in one location will eliminate the need for cancer patients to travel out of town and likewise keep their family members from missing work.

From diagnosis to survivorship, a cancer patient might make 100 visits to a doctor or clinic in a year, the foundation’s Kristin Trexler said. Having all the cancer services in one place reduces the stress of traveling, reduces the stress on family and increases the chance of consistent care, she said.

According to the N.C. Cancer Registry, the state had more than 60,000 new cancer cases last year and more than 880 in Rowan County. There will be an estimated 20,000 cancer deaths in North Carolina in 2018.

“The cancer care here is already good,” Brinkley said. “The resources are here, but they are scattered.”

Brinkley said oncology is one of the most collaborative medical fields there is and it involves most of the medical and ancillary services there are.

Care for cancer patients can be complicated, and patients need help from sources such as nurse navigators, social services and support groups, in addition to all the specialists they see.

Putting all those things in one place can lead to improvements in outcomes, Brinkley said.

He also sees a Cancer Care Center as being able to conduct clinical trials more effectively and having the ability to bring in more sub-specialists.

Both Brinkley and McNeely talked about how a Cancer Care Center would improve personalized care. Brinkley has the reputation already of spending considerable time with his cancer patients.

“When you live it and you see it, you know what a difference it makes,” he said.

Parker spoke of the late Tippie Miller, a foundation stalwart who died last year but not without declaring about the Cancer Care Center, “We will do this.”

Miller’s enthusiasm for the project led Parker to promise her it would be accomplished. “Failure is not an option,” he said.

In making their pitch to hospital supporters Thursday night, Parker and Trexler emphasized that no donation is too small. Parker noted the foundation’s previous success in raising $500,000 for 3-D mammography and $750,000 for a mobile mammography unit.

Parker urged everyone in the room to invest in the health care of the community with this new Cancer Care Center.

“It may not be for you,” he said, “but it may be for your children or grandchildren someday.”

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.