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Dragon Boat race to be held Saturday in Johnson City

Published On: Sep 06 2013 06:07:54 PM CDT

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The Mountain States Foundation announced plans Thursday for a new capital campaign that will have a significant impact on cancer care in the Tri-Cities region. The Foundation has made a commitment to support a construction and renovation project at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) for the radiation oncology department.

“Most of us have been touched by cancer in some way, whether we have faced the disease ourselves or helped a loved one through the battle,” said Pat Holtsclaw, president of the Mountain States Foundation. “The Foundation is proud to be supporting this project, which is so greatly needed by the folks who are facing cancer in our area.”

JCMC’s new radiation oncology center will be housed in the lower level of the hospital’s new surgery tower, which is still under construction. The radiation oncology center will expand from 16,700 square feet to 35,700, and will go from five exam rooms to 12.

The current radiation oncology center inside JCMC was constructed in 1988. In the mid-1990s, the center saw about 12 patients per day. Today, however, the daily patient volume is close to 80, meaning that many patients must schedule their procedures early in the morning or late in the evening.

The expansion will not only provide greater convenience for patients, but improved technology as well. With funds provided by the Foundation, the hospital plans to purchase a new linear accelerator, the Varian TrueBeam radiation system. The highly focused beams from this piece of technology allow physicians to target cancer cells with pinpoint accuracy while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. This allows some patients to be treated in a shorter length of time with fewer side effects.

“JCMC and MSHA have long been the technology leader in cancer care for our region. We believe that this latest addition continues to place us in a position to provide our patients with the very best care available,” said Dr. Kyle Colvett, a radiation oncologist and medical director of JCMC’s radiation therapy center.

The construction and renovation project will also add a medical library for patients, a chapel, and a separate waiting area and entrance for children. The total cost of the project is $15 million, and the Foundation has committed to raising $7 million toward that goal.

“During the silent phase of our fundraising efforts, the Foundation has already raised half of our total goal,” said Clarinda Jeanes, the chairperson for the campaign. “We are eager to finish the remainder of the campaign with strong support from the community so that the new linear accelerator can be installed and begin helping patients.”

Several of the Foundation’s public events will be dedicated to the radiation oncology campaign, including the Dragon Boat race, which is set for Saturday, Sept. 7, at Winged Deer Park in Johnson City. In early 2014, the Spirit Gala and accompanying raffle, sponsored by Champion Chevrolet, will also support the project.

“It has been an honor to be able to witness first-hand the generosity and compassion that people in our area have for those who are in need,” said Jeanes. “I am excited about what the future holds for our patients.”