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EAMC Spencer Cancer Center Fulfills Hospital's Patient Care Vision

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

The new Spencer Cancer Center — named after E. L. Spencer Jr. and Ruth P. Spencer — was opened to see patients in mid summer following an open house hosted by EAMC to showcase the hospital's monumental advancement. Since that night when guests from all around Opelika, Auburn, and surrounding counties came to experience the modernized facility — from the picturesque surrounding landscape the moment you arrive, to the intentionally designed natural lighting effects, to the spacious rooms, to the updated technology such as the linear accelerators and infusion bay areas — patients have appreciated the amenities and features the contemporary facility has for themselves and their guests.

The beautiful 60,000 square foot facility is the fulfillment of a plan that took many years to develop and required a complex collaborative approach to bring the hospital's vision to reality. The original cancer center that was built in 1992 only had 15,000 square feet in which to see and treat patients. With cancer on the rise and Opelika experiencing increased population growth, the need for upgraded technology and increased space was paramount to the future of EAMC's success to serve patients. “Unfortunately our cancer cases have really increased in the past five to seven years as the area has grown, so we’ve simply outgrown our old cancer center,” John F. Cabelka, MD, a radiation oncologist at EAMC, stated in an interview with WTVM. “We had a great team of skilled personnel, but the facilities were older and too small,” Cabelka said.


In a separate interview, Cabelka emphasized the need for the new cancer center:

In addition to creating a spacious, welcoming environment for the patient, EAMC also desired for increased capacity to host patients' family members and friends. “The patient has the disease but the entire family has to deal with it, so we want the patients to be able to have their family members and friends come visit with them," Brandon Johnson, MD, an oncologist at EAMC, said. "We want them to have a comfortable space.”

EAMC President and CEO Laura Grill also pointed out in a press release the importance of social support and receiving treatment close to home. “When you’re under cancer care you want to stay at home and you want to stay in your community," Laura Grill said. “You don’t want to do the 280 shuffle.” Thankfully now, staying close to home is a likely possibility for patients facing a cancer diagnosis. "For the majority of cancer types and majority of cancer cases – other than the rare, specialty (types) – anything can be treated and done (here), and stay in the community.”


Understanding this crucial role that social support plays in the healing process, and heeding the requests of the physicians and patients, the project's architect and principal from TRO Jung|Brannen, Doug McCurry, AIA, carefully implemented the requested features in his design, all while keeping the flow of the building from the patient's perspective as the main focus, and allowing provisions for future growth.


This collaborative vision was finally brought to life during The Spencer Cancer Center's open house as guests arrived and experienced for the first time the new state-of-the-art facility.

The night included music, food and joyfulness as guests toured the facility at their own pace and were also given the opportunity to talk with the hospital's oncologists and staff members. The feelings of excitement and gratitude filled the air as guests thought of their loved ones who could now receive world-class treatment in a facility so close to home. Many patients have already experienced what the hospital's leadership had hoped to provide.

East Alabama Medical Center and the city of Opelika are grateful for E. L. Spencer Jr. and Ruth P. Spencer's generous contribution and their devoted support over the years to the community. “Mr. Spencer was a longtime board member, including chairman of the board, and Mrs. Spencer is obviously his wife and has been involved very much in the community,” EAMC told the Opelika-Auburn News. “They made a large gift, and so we’re naming the facility in honor of them.” Mr. & Mrs. Spencer are "very humbled" by the honor.


The Spencer Cancer Center is located at 2501 Village Professional Drive in Opelika. Click here to view more images of the completed project.


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