Winship Cancer Institute at Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital has renovated and expanded its facilities in what hospital officials call an effort to become one of the premier cancer centers in the southeastern United States.

Now, more than 400 patients can be treated a day, twice as many as before the $6 million renovation, hospital officials said.
The center removed administrative offices from the institute’s building, created a central registration area and installed more exam rooms in the radiation and medical oncology wings.

Cutting the ribbon at the Winship Cancer Institute dedication are, from left, Dr. Peter Rossi, director of radiation oncology; Dr. Stephen Szabo, director of community oncology; Heather Dexter, CEO of Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital; Rusty Paul, mayor of Sandy Springs; and Dr. David Kooby, director of surgical oncology. (Photo Jaclyn Turner)

Cutting the ribbon at the Winship Cancer Institute dedication are, from left, Dr. Peter Rossi, director of radiation oncology; Dr. Stephen Szabo, director of community oncology; Heather Dexter, CEO of Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital; Rusty Paul, mayor of Sandy Springs; and Dr. David Kooby, director of surgical oncology. (Photo Jaclyn Turner)

Members of the community and hospital staff gathered Oct. 19 for a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a blessing for the center and tours of the new facility located at the hospital on Sandy Springs’ Pill Hill medical center area.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said it represents “the cutting edge of healthcare.”

“This is a disease that has touched each of us in this room,” Paul said. “I can’t wait to figure out how to defeat it.”

Dr. Peter Rossi, a radiation oncologist, said the expansion will provide greater access for patients in north Georgia and neighboring states. “We strive to have the best of cancer practices,” he said.

Among the new pieces of equipment added to the building are two linear accelerators, which customize high energy radiation to treat abnormal tissue growth and cancer cells in a variety of cancers, and The Gamma Knife Icon, which offers a minimally invasive and highly precise radiation treatment for patients with brain tumors.

Emory Saint Joseph’s is the fourth facility in the United States and the first hospital in Georgia to acquire this newly updated machine, hospital officials said.

“We’re most proud of the way we are able to provide the services,” said Heather Dexter, CEO of Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“We’re providing it in a multi-disciplinary manner. We’ve got our surgical, radiation, and medical oncologists working together at the same clinic, on the same patient, at the same time,” Dexter said. “Rather than a patient having to get three separate opinions on their best course of care, we have our physicians sitting at the table, trying to figure out what the best course of care is for each patient, individually.”

Dr. Robert Klafter, a general oncologist, moved from New York City six months ago to work in the hospital. He had trained in metro Atlanta during his residency and said he jumped at the chance to move back. More than 25 oncologists and physicians work at the Winship center. “I want to build something special here,” Klafter said.

The renovation was largely funded through the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and through the hospital’s capital budget.
Emory facilities, including Saint Joseph’s and other locations, constitute the only National Cancer Institute designated cancer center in Georgia. Other NCI centers include The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Duke Cancer Institute and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.

–Jaclyn Turner

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