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Phoebe Cancer Center named ACR Center of Excellence

Linda Van der Merwe, vice president of oncology services at the Phoebe Cancer Center, was among the officials at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Monday to announce that the cancer center had been designated by the American College of Radiology as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.

Linda Van der Merwe, vice president of oncology services at the Phoebe Cancer Center, was among the officials at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Monday to announce that the cancer center had been designated by the American College of Radiology as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.

ALBANY, Ga. -- On Monday, officials with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital announced that its cancer center had received designation by the American College of Radiology as a breast imaging center of excellence.

The designation, officials at Phoebe say, is one of 18 in Georgia with Phoebe being the only facility south of Macon that has achieved this level of accreditation.

As a breast imaging center of excellence, Phoebe's imaging program has been recognized for its performance in mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, breast ultrasound and ultrasound-guided breast biopsy.

Peer-review evaluations, conducted in each breast imaging modality by board-certified physicians and medical physicists, have determined that Phoebe has achieved high practice standards in image quality, personnel qualifications, facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs.

"By all of us working together, the continuum of care for women has been solidified," said Linda Van der Merwe, vice president of oncology services at Phoebe. "Our community can rest assured that they don't have to go to Atlanta or Jacksonville (for care).

"Phoebe is working elbow to elbow with those centers."

The breast cancer program has also been named a center of excellence by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC).

During the NAPBC survey process, the center was expected to demonstrate compliance with standards established by the organization for treating the full-spectrum of breast disease in women. The standards include proficiency in center leadership, clinical management research, community outreach, professional education and quality improvement.

An aspect that makes Phoebe stand out, officials say, is patient access to a multi-disciplinary team that comes together for a weekly tumor conference to discuss cases and provide integrated care focusing on the whole patient.

From that concept, there has been weekly breast tumor conferences set up for the specific purpose of treating breast cancer patients. The team includes nine hematologists/oncologists, two radiation oncologists, two neuro-oncologic surgeons, one surgical oncologist as well as pathologists, radiologists and plastic surgeons.

This team is backed by nurses, social workers, breast cancer nurse navigators, nutritionists and other caregivers.

"Cancer care of the patient is complex and multi-faceted," said Dr. Chirag Jani, an oncologist and cancer committee chairman at the Phoebe Cancer Center. "It is rare for an institution to provide this all under one roof.

"This provides us the ability to follow the patient long-term."

Both of these designations come on the heels of Phoebe's cancer program being granted three-year approval with commendation by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.