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Baptist announces cancer center, NICU expansion plans


Baptist Health Paducah will move forward in 2015 with plans to develop a comprehensive all-under-one-roof Regional Cancer Care Center and expand its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

While plans are under way for both projects, Baptist Health will share more details and answer questions at meetings on Thursday, Nov. 20 -- on the cancer center at 6 p.m., NICU at 7 p.m. -- in the Baptist Heart Center auditorium.

These expansions, as well as other growth initiatives, such as the development of recently-announced clinics in Calvert City, are all part of Baptist Health’s focus to help people be healthier by providing services to prevent, shorten or manage illness, as close by and as conveniently as possible.


Baptist Health, the Paducah area’s only nationally-accredited cancer center, treats about 1,200 patients a year, including about 110 outpatients daily for radiation and chemotherapy. Projections call for those numbers to grow, as Kentucky has the highest cancer rates in the nation.

Preliminary plans call for the center to be developed adjacent to the current radiation therapy area on the northeast end of the campus on the Broadway side. It will bring together radiation therapy, outpatient chemotherapy, lab, rehabilitation, research, education resources, palliative care, dietary counseling, complementary medicine and retail space – with nurse navigators to assist patients and their families as they go from diagnosis through treatment. “Patients coming in for treatment or consultation can get everything they need in one location,” Brown said.

New radiation equipment can shorten treatment from weeks to days

The hospital recently invested $3.1 million in new technology that can shorten radiation treatments from weeks to days. It is expected to be installed by March in the current radiation therapy area.

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiosurgery will be available through the new Varian Trubeam linear accelerator, which will replace one of two linear accelerators currently in use. (Stereotactic means imaging markers are used to guide the beam of radiation or the surgeon to the precise spot needing treatment.)

“Sometimes our patients will go to academic centers, such as Vanderbilt, and the specialists there will say to them, “Why are you here? There is no need for you to leave Paducah,’ ” hospital president William A. Brown said.

With five medical oncologists, two radiation oncologists and a variety of surgical specialists, including brain and spine surgeons, the advanced expertise is available locally, along with the advanced equipment.


Baptist Health Paducah delivers about 1,400 babies a year, about four times the number of its closest competitor. A small percentage of those babies, especially those born prematurely, require intensive care before they can grow large enough or get strong enough to go home.

Baptist Health Paducah opened a six-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in 2011. Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services recently approved a certificate of need for the addition of four licensed beds, bringing the total to 10.

The expansion will be conducted in phases over two years, first involving the relocation of some physician offices in Doctors Office Building 2 to make space available.