Cancer Care in Emporia

By E. Brent Perkins, M.D., Ph.D., hematologist-oncologist at VCU Massey Cancer Center

More than 20 years ago, VCU Massey Cancer Center founded the Rural Cancer Outreach Program to provide state-of-the-art oncology care in areas of rural Virginia identified by high cancer rates and with limited resources and poor access to oncology care. In Emporia, Massey’s Rural Cancer Outreach Program partnered with the community hospital, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC), to staff a cancer clinic.

For the last two decades, one or two doctors and one nurse traveled once per week from Massey in Richmond to SVRMC in Emporia. Most recently, that has been nurse practitioner Kevin Brigle and me. We evaluated patients with new diagnoses of cancer, provided follow-up to patients on treatment, made referrals for radiation therapy where appropriate and consulted with local physicians about the care of their patients.

The program was designed to enable the primary doctors to care for their patients when the outreach doctors were back in Richmond. The outreach clinic operated daily, administering chemotherapy, transfusions and monitoring pain under the supervision of the local physicians and nurses.

The goals of the program were to provide as much care as possible within the community; teach physicians and nurses living and serving in this community about the care of cancer patients; and bring advanced treatment through clinical trials.

VCU Massey Cancer Center’s (MCV Associated Physicians’) lease at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) has since expired, and Massey was not offered the option to renew it. I regret to share that as of April 19, 2019, Massey will no longer practice at SVRMC.

While Massey would like to remain in Emporia as a cancer care provider, resources are not available to ensure a sustainable model for patient care that is independent from SVRMC. The Outreach Program was designed to operate in partnership with them.

To continue cancer care with Massey, we can offer local patients an appointment with another Massey provider at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) in South Hill. Oncology physicians at VCU Health CMH are part of Massey Cancer Center, are well qualified and compassionate and will be able to continue to provide Emporia-area patients with high-quality cancer care. A fully operational clinic is offered five days a week there with hematology, medical and radiation oncology care. Additionally, Massey is assessing the transportation needs of existing Emporia-area patients and will work with them individually to assist them with their transition of care.

Our providers at Massey’s clinics in the Richmond area are available for referrals and appointments as well. Southside Regional Medical Center, which is not affiliated with VCU Massey, also offers high-quality cancer care in Petersburg that patients may find convenient.

Furthermore, Massey Cancer Center will continue to serve the Emporia and surrounding communities with health education, screening and prevention programs through our Cancer Research and Resource Center in Lawrenceville.

It has been my sincere pleasure to serve this community and to get to know many of you. I will miss spending time in Emporia each week. If my team and I can be of assistance to you, please call us at (804) 628-1918. 

Air Max