Singletary Oncology Center Celebrates 30 Years of Cancer Care
This summer, Archbold’s Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center will mark a milestone in cancer care. The Center will celebrate 30 years since Archbold opened the first comprehensive cancer treatment center in the region, a move that offered area citizens world-class treatment in a community setting.
The Thomasville-based Oncology Center was first dedicated on June 12, 1988 by Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Hall Singletary, the generous family who gave the lead gift for the building fundraising campaign, and for whom the Center was named.
By the end of year one, the Center had seen 399 registered patients and administered 4,714 radiation treatments and 643 chemotherapy treatments.
Over the past 30 years, the Center has served well over 20,000 total patients.
The Oncology Center has grown to be an important addition to Archbold. But it did not grow overnight.
Shortly after opening its doors, the Oncology Center was already adding technological advancements and offering educational programs and seminars. In 1989, Archbold’s surgery department acquired an ultrasound unit designed especially for prostate examinations allowing patients from the Center access to the latest technology to aid in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer.
In 1990, the Hospital Auxiliary donated a multi-passenger van allowing the center to begin patient transportation services for patients who needed assistance getting to and from the Center for treatment.
Improving with Age and Expanded to Meet the Oncology Needs in the Region
The Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center marked its third anniversary in August of 1991 with more than 400 area citizens in attendance of the celebration. Not only did the gathering commemorate touching more than 1,500 lives since the center’s opening, the Oncology Center received the highest and earliest eligible approval from the College’s Commission on Cancer as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center.
In the spring of 1992, the LHSOC became one of the first sites south of Atlanta to offer a revolutionary dialysis-type therapy treatment to cancer patients.
After five years of service, the Center planned for its first major expansion of services to accommodate the growth of the program. The expansion would include a larger infusion treatment room, additional examination rooms, and a new blood drawing area. The LHSOC also began participating in national cancer research studies after being accepted into the Atlanta Center for Cancer Research and Education, providing access to experimental treatment programs for patients who otherwise would have had to travel great distance.
That same year, the Center introduced new radiation oncology treatment technology—the region’s first and only high dose remote afterloader, which would allow high doses of radiation to be deliver directly to tumors in minutes rather than hours, while protecting staff and patients from unnecessary radiation exposure.
But cancer care didn’t just happen behind the doors of the Oncology Center in Thomasville.
The services of the Oncology Center expanded throughout the region with the opening of clinics in neighboring communities.
The Oncology Center also began coordinating with Archbold Home Health Services and Archbold’s Hospice of Southwest Georgia to build a multi-disciplinary team that provided home delivered services for cancer patients, including nursing care, IV therapy, chemotherapy treatments, tube feedings, and dressings and wound care, as well as hospice services for terminally ill patients focusing on the quality of life.
10 Years of Service
In 1998, the Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center celebrated its 10th Anniversary, a milestone that marked serving almost 8,000 patients over a ten-year period.
Before heading into a new millennium, the Oncology Center brought forth another major advancement—Prostate Seed Implants, a new service to treat prostate cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer affecting men at the time.
Renovations to the Oncology Center began in the summer of 2000. The LHSOC added a new radiation vault and CT scanner, renovated the second floor, and utilized a new computer system with an expanded patient library. The renovations were completed in February of 2002. Also that year, over 12 clinical trials were offered, along with over 40 health screenings, health fairs and education lectures.
The Year of the Gamma Knife
In January of 2003, the Leskell Gamma Knife would arrive at the Oncology Center, transforming treatment for a wide array brain cancer and benign malformations.
“The Gamma Knife has changed our entire practice,” said Dr. Johnson.
The Gamma Knife team performed 19 procedures that inaugural year, and in five years over 400 patients received this advanced form of treatment.
Radiation oncologists Steven Johnson, MD, and David Saunders, MD, along with Archbold neurosurgeons Gerald Kadis, MD, and Craig Fredericks, MD, formed the original Gamma Knife physician treatment team. The original Gamma Knife team also included physicist Ramesh Nair, PhD, and nurse Janet Collins, RN.
“The Gamma Knife has given us many new treatment options,” said Dr. Kadis. “With the Gamma Knife, we can treat tumors that were formerly inoperable and impossible to reach due to their location. The technology allows us to quickly and easily treat multiple malignant tumors (brain metastasis) in one session. We can also treat many non-malignant tumors without open surgery.”
Prior to Gamma Knife, treatment for many patients would have involved having the whole brain exposed to radiation, which frequently could produce unwanted cognitive changes, as well as hair loss not seen with Gamma Knife treatment.
“With Gamma Knife, multiple lesions can be treated in one visit, and quite successfully,” said Dr. Kadis. “The Gamma Knife has been a revolutionary technology for transforming how we treat patients with complex intracranial pathology.”
20 Years of Service and Beyond
In 2008, the Oncology Center marked two decades of service and dedication to the region. In its 20th year, the Center served over 11,500 patients and was offering nearly 40 services throughout the region.
As the celebration continued, renderings were created for a new larger Center needed to help meet the growing demand for cancer care in the South Georgia/North Florida region.
On May 12, 2009, Archbold broke ground on the new Broad Street site of the Singletary Oncology Center. In August of 2010, the new 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center opened its doors. Also referred to as the “New Home for Hope”, the new Center boasted expanded waiting and registration areas, new patient support areas, 19 patient examination rooms, 22 infusion bays, two linear accelerators, and a designated Gamma Knife Center, all under one roof.
A Focus on Technology, Innovation and Research
In 2011 with a beautiful new building, new technological advances emerged. Archbold radiation oncologist Steve Johnson, MD, and Archbold general surgeon Ed Hall, MD, were recognized as the first in the state and the second worldwide to revolutionize surgical treatment for lung cancer using Cesium-131 mesh brachytherapy and the da Vinci Surgical Robot to treat early stage lung cancer.
In 2013, the Center celebrated a decade of Gamma Knife, and more than 1,200 benign and malignant lesions treated in approximately 750 patients from 55 counties and 10 states. The Center also provided 21,214 free screenings to 9,070 participants at 31 locations that year.
In the fall of 2015, the Center acquired the latest generation of the Gamma Knife—the Gamma Perfexion. Archbold remains the only hospital in the region with the Gamma Knife Perfexion technology.
In 2016, the cancer program recorded over 37,500 visits, including approximately 3,200 at outreach facilities in Camilla and Bainbridge alone.
Looking Towards the Future
Now in 2018, the Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center celebrates 30 years of service. The Oncology Center continues to grow and evolve every year.
Dr. Steven Johnson, MD, was one of the original oncologists on staff when the Center opened. Dr. Johnson now serves as the Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at the Center.
“Whenever I think of the 30-year process, I think of the people,” said Dr. Johnson. “The employees and the patients are so special to me. When it all began, there were only about ten staff members and two oncologists—the late Dr. Walter Morley, a medical oncologist, and myself. And now we have close to 80. But throughout the years, our oncology team has always been here to fight a hard fight, and exhaust themselves for each and every patient. Throughout the years, we’ve provided a unique team approach to cancer care to ensure our patients have access to the best oncology services and cancer fighting technology possible.”
As the Oncology Center celebrates thirty years, the Gamma Knife will make its mark, as well, celebrating 15 years in Thomasville. The Gamma Knife team has grown to include a third neurosurgeon, Brian Russell, MD, and nurse Jennifer Mathis, RN.
Becky Troyer, administrator of the Singletary Oncology Center, says the advanced treatments the Center offers locally actually match what is available in major metropolitan areas.
“We are very current with new developments in oncology,” said Troyer. “Our physicians have a good mix of experience, and they are all well-connected to people and resources that keep us knowledgeable and up-to-date with the latest treatment advances and options that are available for our patients.”
When asked what the future holds for the Singletary Oncology Center, Troyer responded, “Rest assured we will not be stagnant. We’re looking to expand our clinical trials research program even further, making advancements in chemotherapy and immunotherapy. And we’re looking to bring more technologically advanced equipment within the upcoming years. Our incredible staff of medical and radiation oncologists will continue to carry on a tradition of excellence, and will also add an additional medical oncologist within the next year.”
The Center now boasts six oncologists—four specializing in medical oncology and two specializing in radiation oncology. Medical oncologists include Brian Gaupp, MD, Amanda May, MD, Josh Simmons, MD, and Esther Tan, MD. Radiation oncologists include Steven Johnson, MD, and David Saunders, MD.
“We’re so proud of what Archbold has accomplished over 30 years since we introduced comprehensive cancer care locally to our community. We will continue to provide the same compassionate care to all of our patients, offer the most advanced treatment options possible and the best overall support to each patient during their journey,” said Perry Mustian, Archbold President and CEO. “We’re grateful for the support of our patients who have trusted us to care for them over the years. The Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center truly has become a regional destination for cancer treatment.”
Original home of the Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center, which was located on Mimosa Drive from 1988 until 2010.
On June 12, 1988, Archbold staff, community members and physicians gathered with Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Hall Singletary, the family who gave the generous lead gift for the building fundraising campaign and for whom the Center was named, to cut a ribbon celebrating the opening of the first comprehensive cancer treatment center in the region.
Celebrating 20 years of cancer care in Thomasville, Archbold staff, physicians and board members gathered to break ground on the new state-of-the-art cancer center hailed as a “New Home for Hope”.
In January of 2003, the Leskell Gamma Knife arrived at the Oncology Center, transforming treatment for a wide array brain cancer and benign malformations. In the fall of 2015, the Center acquired the Gamma Perfexion, the latest and most precise radiosurgery technology to hit the market, and the only one if its kind in South Georgia and North Florida’s Big Bend Region.
Archbold radiation oncologist Steve Johnson, MD, was one of the two original oncologists on staff at the Singletary Oncology Center. Dr. Johnson began his career at Archbold practicing alongside medical oncologist Walter Morley, MD, in 1988. Dr. Johnson still practices at the Center today.
In August of 2010, the new 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center opened its doors. The “New Home for Hope”, featured expanded waiting and registration areas, new patient support areas, 19 patient examination rooms, 22 infusion bays, two linear accelerators and a designated Gamma Knife Center all under one roof.