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September 7, 2018

Cancer center described as key to expanded local care

“It’s about the wellness of the community, keeping health care here.
— Fauquier Health CEO Chad Melton
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Promising continued expansion of local medical services, Fauquier Health officials Friday conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for a $12.5-million cancer treatment center.

When it opens next August, the 25,650-square-foot building will house Fauquier Hospital’s oncologist, infusion therapy center, a hematology/oncology clinic, a pharmacy, a lab, meeting space and support staff.

The hospital administration plans to add radiation therapy, for which cancer patients must leave Fauquier. A “non-compete” agreement has prevented Fauquier Health from offering radiation treatment.

That agreement took effect after LifePoint Heath bought the local hospital and related businesses five years ago. Novant then exercised its option to buy out Fauquier’s interest in the cancer treatment center at Gainesville, built as a joint venture. But, Fauquier Health officials said radiation treatment “in the very near future” would become available in Warrenton.

The new center in Warrenton also will help Fauquier Health recruit cancer surgeons, another speciality missing here, CEO Chad Melton explained at the ceremony Friday morning.

“It’s about the wellness of the community, keeping health care here,” Mr. Melton told the audience of about 70, gathered on the site at Carriage House Lane and Veterans Drive, just downhill from the hospital.

He reflected on the community’s decision to build a new hospital, for which a groundbreaking took place on April 2, 1957.

“The founders believed in providing health care here. Before then, people would travel as far as Richmond for care.”

Victor Giovanetti, president of Tennessee-based LifePoint’s Eastern Group, offered very personal remarks about the need for cancer treatment.

Mr. Giovanetti’s 48-year-old brother Tony died of acute myeloid leukemia in 2007.

Because he had worked as a firefighter/paramedic, the family asked Victor to tell Tony of his fatal diagnosis.

“I walked into the room and could not find the courage,” Mr. Giovanetti recalled.

He left the room. A nurse said she would go with him to the break the news.

Again, he faltered.

Finally, “she delivered the message in a way I will never forget,” Mr. Giovanetti said. “It’s difficult for families . . . . We have an obligation to take care of them physically and spiritually.”

Citing the need for cancer treatment in the community, Del. Michael Webert (R-18th/Marshall) and Warrenton Mayor Carter Nevill spoke about the importance of Fauquier Hospital to their families and friends.

“We have members of our community who have gone all the way to Chicago” for cancer treatment, Mr. Webert said. “If you don’t have care in your community, you go where the care is available.”

Mr. Nevill added: “The healing power is always strongest at home.”

The hospital last year provided care for 239 cancer patients, Mr. Melton said. The infusion center administered 6,000 treatments.

LifePoint will fund construction of the Fauquier Health Center for Cancer Care with cash, Mr. Giovantti said in an interview before the ceremony. Fauquier Health had planned the structure — first conceived as a general medical office building — for seven years.

Mr. Melton concluded with a quote from the late Tom Frost, a Warrenton businessman and state legislator who led the effort to build a new hospital six decades ago: “Let us dedicate ourselves to keep alive and nourish the community spirit and attitudes that make all this possible.”

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