PIKEVILLE — Gov. Andy Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-05) announced during the 2020 Virtual SOAR Summit that Pikeville Medical Center received a $4.27 million grant for the expansion of its Leonard Lawson Cancer Center, and PMC has shared details on how the expansion will benefit patients.
With this new grant, PMC plans to expand the Leonard Lawson Cancer Center by 7,000 square feet on the eleventh floor of the PMC Clinic Building. The funds will be used to construct new exam rooms and new chemotherapy suites alongside the specialized pharmacy designed for the cancer center, as well as purchase much-needed equipment. The project will provide an additional 37 full-time healthcare jobs, not including new administrative and and other positions associated with the expansion.
During a press conference, PMC CEO Donovan Blackburn explained why PMC has already invested millions into the expansion project over the past two or three years before this announcement in order to purchase new equipment to detect and treat different kinds of cancer. He said that PMC has invested over $15 million in total, including this newest grant, for expanding their cancer treatments.
“Our patients are forced to travel sometimes two to three hours away to receive various types of treatments that, currently, we don’t offer, even though we offer advanced care and have very wonderful physicians,” Blackburn said. “PMC has a long history, over 75 years, of being invested in cancer. We opened our first comprehensive cancer center in 1947. Our mission then, as it is now, is to search for the latest advancements in both patient treatment and technology. The over-$15-million in total that we have made over the last two years will certainly change the way that we’re able to aggressively treat cancer and certainly the services we’ll be able to offer within our own community.”
In 2019, he said, PMC’s Leonard Lawson Cancer Center saw more than 25,000 patient interactions, 6,600 chemotherapy visits and 20,000 outpatient visits. That same year, PMC invested nearly $500,000 to move the center to the 10th floor of the Clinic Building. PMC has since added three-dimensional mammography, a process for baseline screenings available in fewer than half of U.S. hospitals, and it plans to purchase two $7-million linear accelerators, which are used to help fight cancer through radiation and detect and treat more types of cancers.
PMC’s most recent grant came from funding from the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot grant program, which provides funding for projects meant for economic development and job growth in Appalachia. Rogers helped organize the AML Pilot program and since 2016, the program has provided $540 million to the Appalachian region, of which $130 million has been awarded in Kentucky. This year, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each received $25 million from the AML Pilot program.
“We face some of the highest rates of health disparities in the country so we must remain vigilant in our work to improve medical services and access to quality care in every community,” Rogers said in a statement.
Beshear also delivered remarks on PMC’s expansion grant and the AML Pilot program grant worth $4 million received by King’s Daughters Health System. He said that these grants are focused on improving access to healthcare, which he said has been a focus for his administration.
“These grants will bring real improvements to the lives of our people in Eastern Kentucky. My administration knows that health care is a basic human right, and it has never been more important than now, as we battle this global health pandemic,” said Beshear. “We are committed to working with our federal partners to help deliver the best possible care for all of our citizens. It’s how we build a stronger Eastern Kentucky and a better Kentucky for everyone.”
Blackburn thanked Beshear, Rogers and the AML Committee for choosing PMC as one of the recipients out of the 70 total grant applications.
“Because of the vision of Congressman Rogers and these funds being available to our communities, this project has become a reality,” Blackburn said. “Between this new project, our specialty pharmacy project, our growth plans for the AVA (Appalachian Valley Autism) Center, our children’s hospital, the new heart and vascular center which is scheduled to open in less than two weeks and along with several other projects that we’ve not yet announced, we expect to create between 350 and 400 additional jobs over the next 18 to 24 months.”