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Reflections: Health care improved in 2011

Dr. Hejal Patel talks to patient Kim Scheffer as he undergoes treatment at the Cancer Center.

For Red Level’s Vickie Quates, 2011 was the year she battled cancer head-on and won – all thanks to the county’s biggest accomplishment in the healthcare field – local comprehensive cancer treatment and care.

In economic development circles, access to medical care rates with good schools in the “quality of life” categories that help attract people and their businesses to an area.

In November, the community celebrated the opening of a center that expanded the scope of medical treatments available here, enhancing the quality of life.

The center, a partnership between Andalusia Regional Hospital, 21st Century Oncology and Sacred Heart Cancer Center, opened in August on the hospital campus. It was a relationship three years in the making, and it couldn’t have come a moment too soon, Quates said.

“I was driving to Pensacola (Fla.) and then Opp for my treatments,” said the small cell lung cancer patient. “But when the center opened here, we were so glad.”

During its first quarter of operations, the center administered more than 150 patient treatments a week.

Quates was counted among those, but as of today, not any more. She testified that having chemotherapy and radiation treatments available locally saves the toll that travel can take on patients and their families.

“(Thursday) was my last treatment,” she said. “No one is as happy as I am right now. These people here are my angels, heaven sent I tell you – just like the services I get here.”

Vickie Quates as she takes her last cancer treatment Thursday.

Also this year, local residents saw the opening of Gamma Health Care, a new lab that conducts testing for doctors and other medical facilities and has a walk-in clinic where patients can have lab work done.

 

In October, those with the Andalusia City School’s child nutrition program were invited to the White House and honored for their strides in making children healthier.

2011 also marked 40 years of service for Andalusia’s Bobby Scott, owner of Mallet Drug Co.; a 105th birthday for Agnes Gatlin, who said the secret to her longevity was eating her vegetables; and the announcement that Sav-A-Life, a pregnancy resource program, would open a second location in Florala.