Photo: City of Gadsden officials, Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority representatives and Alabama Cancer Care Network representatives perform a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the upcoming cancer care center. (Emma Kirkemier/Messenger)
By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor
On May 4, Alabama Cancer Care broke ground on a new facility located at 402 South 1st Street in Gadsden. The 10,000-square-foot project is a $6.5 million investment by the Alabama Cancer Care Network.
“This new facility will allow Gadsden and Etowah County residents an opportunity to receive state-of-the-art treatments without having to travel out of town,” said City of Gadsden Public Affairs Coordinator Michael Rodgers.
“The search for the site took place over a year ago with the previous administration, so thank you again, (former Mayor Sherman Guyton),” said City of Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford. “We closed on the property my first week in office, and today we move to the actual movement of the dirt.”
The City of Gadsden, the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority and the Gadsden-Etowah Chamber of Commerce attended the event.
Alabama Cancer Care Network currently has 10 offices around the state, including one located in Gadsden at 355 South 2nd Street. The new location, however, will offer radiation treatment.
According to the Alabama Cancer Care website, the Gadsden office currently offers chemotherapy treatments, but not radiation.
Other locations include Anniston, Fort Payne, Montgomery, Sylacauga, Selma, Jasper, Tuscaloosa, Winfield and Demopolis.
Dr. Ashvini Sengar, MD, Hematology/Medical Oncology, of Alabama Cancer Care was the driving force behind the expansion to radiation oncology.
“This is a big day for us,” said ACC Executive Director Keith Whitley. “We have had a long-term commitment to Gadsden, previously at medical oncology. Dr. Sengar came here about 12 years ago (with the) medical oncology practice. His ultimate desire was to create a comprehensive radiation and medical oncology practice.”
Sengar is affiliated with Riverview Regional and Gadsden Regional medical centers. Another longtime Gadsden physician will lead the new practice in Dr. Shawnta Anakwah, MD, Hematology/Medical Oncology.
The cancer center’s physicians will be Anakwah and Dr. Justin Steinman, Radiation Oncology, as well as nurse practitioners Emma Arquitola and Tracie Thornton.
“We got a clear understanding of what the direction of the community leaders was, which was to take healthcare to the next level,” Whitley said. “We were fortunate that Dr. Anakwah, who has been practicing in Gadsden for a number of years, chose to come on board and be our medical oncologist. And subsequently she helped in recruiting Dr. Steinman.”
Steinman is currently finishing his residency at the University of South Carolina and is expected to join the facility before its opening.
“The instructions that Dr. Sengar gave to us were to try to utilize as many people in the community, to try to use as many skilled laborers, as possible,” Whitley said. “So that’s been a goal of ours, to become fully integrated into the community as quickly as possible. I think we’re doing that on target.
“We’ve worked closely with some local folks at Riverview who have helped us in opening up the doors. We appreciate them.”
“This plays right into our plan for the riverfront development of healthcare,” Ford said. “We’re thankful (the center is) here, and we look forward to growing with (them).”