Urgent Care for Cancer Patients

On average, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are more likely than others to visit the emergency room and to need hospitalization.

Illustration of a ribbon made of many people.

Illustration by ProStockStudio

Even so, most report only a small fraction of their symptoms—such as pain, nausea and dehydration—to their care team. Funded by a multimillion-dollar gift from the Ma-Ran Foundation, Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute will establish an immediate care facility to bridge the gap between cancer centers and emergency rooms. The Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship at Emory University Hospital is set to open in spring 2022.

“Cancer patients need to know that, when they are at their most vulnerable, there is a place where oncology-trained experts can provide urgent and immediate care. That’s an enormous comfort for patients,” says Sagar Lonial, chief medical officer of Winship.

Having a dedicated cancer urgent care center would improve patient care by making cancer treatment plans seamless while also helping patients avoid exposure to infectious diseases
in emergency waiting rooms.

Winship piloted the idea in 2020, creating a separate urgent care area to see and treat cancer patients who had been exposed to COVID-19, or suspected they had been. The model showed the need for a permanent cancer immediate care center.

The Ma-Ran Foundation has made an investment of $7 million to establish the Rollins Immediate Care Center of Winship, which includes an endowment of $3 million. The endowment’s distribution will provide funding for a variety of research projects and programs for cancer patients. Examples include outcomes research designed to inform and improve the patient experience and funding for “soft touch” amenities important to patients in stressful situations.

Winship plans to house the urgent care center on the fourth floor of the Emory University Hospital Tower, next to the Phase 1 Clinical Trials Unit and the newly constructed Winship Cellular Therapy Unit. This space will provide 11 exam rooms, with three dedicated procedure clinics during peak shifts.

The design of the new center will be guided by a multidisciplinary team of patients, nurses, physicians, and research staff.

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