In the early 2000’s, former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes committed to allocate Georgia’s hundreds of millions in tobacco settlement funds to cancer screening, prevention, treatment, and research initiatives across the state. Georgia was the first state to earmark its tobacco settlement money to help fight cancer.
Almost immediately, the Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC) was established and set to work on building a statewide network of people and organizations devoted to providing all Georgians equal access to exceptional treatment. The Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System was designated to be the first of its kind – with an emphasis on cancer prevention and groundbreaking translational research.
Through a nearly $30 million public/private partnership, the state-of-the-art center was constructed on the 9th and 10th floors of the hospital and dedicated on March 3, 2003 by then Governor Sonny Perdue. Shortly thereafter, the center began treating its first patients.
There were many firsts are associated with the opening of the Cancer Center, including the world’s first application of the Discovery ST, a combined PET/CT scanner developed by GE Medical Systems. That technological breakthrough, combined with clinical trials and groundbreaking research at the center’s 10 biotech labs, would help put Grady at the forefront of the state’s fight against cancer. Ten years later, the center continues to grow and thrive.
“One of the most significant events to occur since the center opened is the accreditation by the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer of both the Georgia Cancer Center and the Avon Breast Center,” said Cancer Center Executive Director Adrienne Kinnaird. “During our survey, we were successful in meeting every one of the 36 accrediting standards. So much so, in fact, that we were actually one of about 5% of hospitals that received accreditation with commendation which is the most prestigious level of recognition.”
Other changes include the addition of new equipment, an increase in the number of clinical trials offered by Emory, and groundbreaking cancer research being conducted on-site by the Morehouse School of Medicine. The Cancer Center is also the first center to partner with the American Cancer Society to provide patients with a resource library. The library allows patients to source additional information about their diagnoses with the help of a trained volunteer.
“I think the thing that I’m most proud of about this center is the commitment of our employees,” said Kinnaird. “There is no way that we could do what we do here without our amazing network of people.