PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Cancer patients in southeast Arkansas won't have to drive into Little Rock for their treatment anymore. CARTI just announced they are building a comprehensive cancer center in Pine Bluff and adding five new physicians to the medical team.
Dr. Scott Stern is the Director of Surgical Oncology for CARTI Cancer Center. He said building a cancer center in Pine Bluff is a huge deal for many Arkansans who travel hours to get their care.
Cancer doesn't sleep, it doesn't care about a virus, pandemic, or economy and our patients still have to undergo treatment," he said. "I have a patient in southeast Arkansas that gets on a Medicaid van before five in the morning to come see me and for a short visit to see me it may be 12 hours before that patient gets back home."
He said that cancer patients in that part of the state will have everything they need closer to home. The cancer treatment facility’s planned services will include medical and radiation oncology, an infusion suite, imaging, mammography services and an on-site lab.
"We're taking our state of the art equipment, people, personnel, staff, support, everything to where its needed most," he said. "It allows us to really give better access to patients in small communities."
CARTI CEO and President, Adam Head, said that patients in southeast Arkansas are seeing rises in cancer cases and so this access is critical.
"If you look at cancer diagnoses and the death rate for cancer in southeast Arkansas, the numbers can be sobering," he said. "We saw there is a need to have a full service, comprehensive hub."
Head said that there are other communities CARTI is considering when thinking about where they might build next.
"We have a list in mind and we are going to approach it the same way," he said. "But right now we are absolutely laser focused on Pine Bluff and southeast Arkansas.
The planned facility opening will have two phases. The first will be at the location during the building process with some on-site cancer treatment operations starting in December 2020. They hope to have the new facility compete by end of 2021.