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Groundbreaking for new cancer center Monday

Andalusia Regional Hospital and 21st Century Oncology will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at 1 p.m. Mon., Aug. 23, for the new cancer center annou-nced earlier this year.

The two entities in May annou-nced a partnership and plans to build a 7,420 square foot cancer treatment facility on the campus of ARH.

This is an architect's rendering of the new cancer center planned for the campus of Andalusia Regional Hospital.

Dooley explained that the hospital is leasing property in front of ARH to 21st Century Oncology for the construction of the facility. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed in nine to 12 months, and the facility is expected to open in the summer of 2011.

“This is an exciting addition to our hospital’s campus and will provide cancer treatment services that will rival any in south Alabama,” Dooley said.

Dooley said the combination of the oncology treatment center and the oncology group practicing here allows the hospital to fill a missing niche.

“My goal for our hospital is to be seen by neighboring smaller hospitals in or area as a regional referral site,” he said. “This is a specialty we needed to have here to do that.”

The facility will include 1,200 square feet to house a new linear accelerator, which is the equipment used for radiation therapy. Dooley estimated that that equipment alone puts the project in the $2 million range.

Sacred Heart Medical Oncology Group plans to move its services currently offered in Opp to Andalusia. Dooley said the group will occupy a new medical office planned across South Three Notch Street from the hospital and being built by local investors.

Dr. Hejal Patel, the radiation oncologist currently serving patients at 21st Century Oncology’s Opp office, will work out of the new facility when it opens.

Dooley said 21st Century Oncology designed the new building to blend with the hospital campus. The hospital will still be visible from South Three Notch even with the single-story cancer facility located in front of it.

21st Century Oncology, Inc. is a developer and operator of radiation therapy centers. These centers, which are freestanding and hospital-based, provide a full spectrum of radiation therapy services to cancer patients. The national company currently offers treatment in this area Opp, Dothan, Crestview, Destin and Ft. Walton Beach.

Sacred Heart Medical Oncology Group is based in Pensacola and provides services in Pensacola, Milton, Destin, Crestview and Opp. Dr. Mark S. Boatright, who currently sees patients in Opp, will be part of the Andalusia office.