New Oncologists Join Archbold

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New Oncologists Join Archbold

Four new physicians join highly regarded cancer program

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among all diseases, both nationally and in Georgia.

It’s estimated that more than 48,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Georgia this year, 1,952 of which are predicted for Archbold’s four-county service region—Brooks County, Grady County, Mitchell County and Thomas County.

In 2011, Archbold’s Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center treated 2,805 unique patients and administered 43,953 medical and radiation oncology treatments.

Cancer has touched most in some way.

Those familiar with the fight against cancer understand the importance of having skilled, compassionate physicians.

Archbold Memorial Hospital recently welcomed four new medical oncologists to the hospital’s medical staff—Teresa Coleman, MD; Amanda May, MD; Penny Heinrich, MD, and Taren Ohman, MD.

The new physicians join medical oncologist Brian Gaupp, MD, and radiation oncologists Steven Johnson, MD, and David Saunders, MD, at the Singletary Oncology Center.

 “One of the best ways Archbold demonstrates our commitment to providing the citizens of South Georgia and North Florida with high-quality healthcare is by recruiting the best physicians to address healthcare needs in the communities we serve,” said Perry Mustian, Archbold CEO.

The four medical oncologists all have regional ties and a desire to work collaboratively to provide the best cancer care in a community setting.

“The new doctors bring strong research capabilities, spirit of cooperation and new energy to the Center,” said Steven Johnson, MD. “Each has an area of expertise that will augment our current practices and depth of our skill.”

From leading an academic department of oncology and hematology to participating in clinical trials, the new physicians bring extraordinary depth in their combined experiences in treating cancer.

“The four physicians bring experience from academic settings, and they are committed to research and delivering cancer treatment in our community in a compassionate fashion,” said Brian Gaupp, MD, PhD. "They will be a fine addition to our center and I look forward to having them as colleagues."

New medical oncologist Taren Ohman, MD, said, “I interviewed extensively in the Southeast and Archbold left the best impression on me. All of the resources an oncologist needs are located in one facility. There is a positive, cohesive dynamic among the various specialties and the ancillary staff is the best I’ve seen. These factors combined translate into excellent patient care.”

Ohman is fellowship trained in medical oncology and comes to Archbold from the University of Florida Health Science Center in Jacksonville. She has a special interest in treating patients with lymphoma.

“As a medical oncologist I have the opportunity to contribute to a community,” said Ohman. “Thomasville exceeded my expectations for hospitality and sense of community, two things that are very important to me.”

Teresa Coleman, MD, was previously at the Medical College of Georgia where most recently she served as Fellowship Program Director in the Department of hematology and oncology. Dr. Coleman is board certified in hematology, oncology and internal medicine and has 20 years oncology experience in academic and private settings. Her patient care interests include prostate and kidney cancer.

“As an oncologist, it’s important to keep up with the most current and effective therapies available that will help your patients,” said Coleman. “There have been so many developments in prostate cancer treatment in just the last three years. Before, only hormones and one kind of chemotherapy were options for patients. Now, multiple new hormonal agents, a new chemotherapy and even the first cancer vaccine are available.”

Dr. Coleman will also lead the clinical trials initiatives for the Singletary Oncology Center.

She said her devotion to clinical treatment trials stems from patient outcome studies that have proven over the years that patients who participate in treatment trials have better clinical outcomes.  And though treatment trials were previously found primarily at large, academic centers, Coleman said that’s changed.

“Now it’s more about the infrastructure of the oncology program than the size of the hospital that makes an attractive site for clinical research,” said Coleman. “Archbold patients have access to the same treatments offered in larger cities. National research groups are now focusing on communities rather than academic centers for clinical trial participation because of the greater efficiency found in community centers and the more heterogeneous patient population. It’s incredible what the oncology patients in Thomasville and our surrounding areas have access to through Archbold.”

Penny Heinrich, MD, joins the team with a special interest in gastrointestinal cancer and breast cancer, the most common cancer seen at the Center last year. Out of 2,805 patients treated at the Singletary Oncology Center in 2011, 611 were treated for breast cancer.

Heinrich said that patients can feel confident that they have the most advanced technology available to them right here in Thomasville.

 “The Singletary Oncology Center is a state-of-the-art facility with advanced technology and very well-trained physicians who offer innovative treatment options. Archbold has a great comprehensive cancer program in place. These components are typically found only in larger cities.”

Heinrich trained at Louisiana State University where she completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology and oncology.

Amanda May, MD, served as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the Medical College of Georgia.  May has extensive experience in private and academic medical settings, and is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.

During her 12 year career in oncology, May has seen many advances in the number of medications available to treat cancer and the more recent trend of more targeted therapies. 

“These treatments are tailored to the disease and cause fewer side effects,” said May. “Both are advantageous to our patients. Overall people with metastatic and advanced cancers are living longer than they had been just 10 years ago.”

May has a special interest in melanoma and lung cancer, which she says are perhaps two of the deadliest tumors with little effective and tolerable treatment. 

“There is a lot of research to do in these areas, and a lot of compassion is needed for these patients and their families,” said May. “In general, there’s not just one aspect of medical oncology that I enjoy. The science behind what we do, the need for compassion and the excellent model for patient and family-centered care are all very important to me.”

The four new medical oncologists join an oncology center now in its 24th year of operation.

The Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center is recognized by the American College of Surgeons as a distinguished Comprehensive Community Cancer Center. The Center has treated patients from 48 counties and seven states and is a regional destination for cancer care. The Center integrates radiation oncology, medical oncology and support services into one location, and provides some technology and amenities not available elsewhere in the region. The Center houses advanced forms of radiation therapy, such as Archbold’s Gamma Knife—the only non-invasive brain surgery technology of its kind south of Atlanta and Augusta and in Florida’s Big Bend region, as well as Trilogy, Archbold’s newest linear accelerator that treat tumors of the body with similar precision to that of Gamma Knife.

“We offer the most modern and diverse technological radiation and chemotherapy services in this region of the country,” said David A. Saunders, MD. “With a combination of experience in clinical and academic medical oncology, as well as training in the most contemporary treatment modalities at well-respected academic institutions, the new team of medical oncologists brings their own unique therapeutic perspectives which may prove invaluable in treating various types of cancer at Archbold.”