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Published on April 03, 2020

Cancer center awarded expansion grant

Steve Elgin, Lori Dove, Gibson Cancer Center

The Golden LEAF Foundation announced on Thursday, April 2, a grant award in the amount of $500,000 for expansion of Southeastern Health’s Gibson Cancer Center to house a second linear accelerator and in anticipation of a permanent PET scanner.

The grant will fund construction to add 8,700 square feet to the existing 23,725-square-foot facility.

A linear accelerator, or LINAC, delivers radiation therapy doses through a beam directly to tumors while preserving the surrounding cells. A positron emission tomography, or PET, scanner creates 3D images of the body which are used when planning or monitoring cancer treatment.

SeHealth currently utilizes a mobile PET scanner which visits the campus of Southeastern Regional Medical Center once each week. The grant will enable the health system to make room for a permanent PET scanner within the cancer center, eliminating the need to schedule a mobile unit offsite with a limited schedule.

“Being able to enlarge our facility to accommodate these two pieces of vital equipment will enable us to expand our treatment programs and services while ensuring virtually no downtime for patients who require treatment,” said Steve Elgin, director of Gibson Cancer Center.

GCC’s current LINAC is the only unit in Robeson County and is the third busiest unit in North Carolina, only surpassed by two machines in Mecklenburg County, which has a total of 10 units. Among single counties with one LINAC, Robeson County ranks first in the number of treatment visits performed.

According to the National Cancer Institute, Robeson County has among the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the state.

“This grant is going to allow us to expand needed cancer services for our community while adding much needed jobs,” said Lori Dove, SeHealth Vice President of Post-Acute Care Services, whose responsibility areas include GCC. “Based on our current plans and timeline, we hope to add up to 21 jobs through the service expansion and the first patient should receive treatment on the new accelerator by April 2021.”

GCC, established in 1995, is the only outpatient cancer treatment facility in Robeson County. The center offers medical oncology through Duke Health and radiation oncology in partnership with Southeastern Radiation Oncology Group. The center also offers a blood disorders clinic and its patients often volunteer for clinical trials and research.