By David Pendered
The ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday for a Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital in Newnan is expected to attract an audience of 500 onlookers.
Part of the draw is just the pure joy watching economic development: Construction is pegged at $150 million, and the economic impact over five years is projected to be $500 million.
Part of the draw is political: The groundbreaking culminates a multi-year battle in the state Legislature. The debate was portrayed as pitting those who promoted choice in cancer treatment against those who wanted to keep insured patients at Georgia’s existing hospitals.
CTCA expects a third of the onlookers will be patients and their caregivers, and the rest are to be the state’s political leaders and other hospital supporters.
“I think it’s great that we’re going to be able to provide outstanding treatment for people of our state, and the people of our surrounding region, who are dealing with complex cancer issues,” said Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta), who describes himself as an advocate of affordable, patient-centered, free-market health care.
“Right now, patients in Georgia eventually leave the state for other areas – like M.D. Anderson [Cancer Centers],” Hill said. “This is a big win for the state for jobs, and a big win for the state for health care.”
CTCA is a for-profit hospital system that says it treats cancer through an array of traditional treatments that are supplemented by “alternative medicine therapies to boost your immune system, reduce treatment-related side effects, and improve your quality of life.”
The terms of the deal that allowed CTCA to open in Georgia require that two-thirds of the patients come from outside Georgia. That mandate is one reason the hospital’s economic impact is expected to be so high.
“They will be patients and caregivers and families coming to Georgia who may not have otherwise come to Newnan, or even to metro Atlanta,” said David Kent, who will serve as senior vice president of operations.
“They will stay in hotels, shop in local stores, eat in the restaurants,” Kent said. “We’ll also do regularly scheduled trips – to the Georgia Aquarium, the Children’s Museum. We will make sure our patients have access to all the amenities of metro Atlanta.”
Patients and their caregivers also will use Atlanta’s airport, which will add to the hospital’s economic impact across the region.
Incentives provided to CTCA include property tax reductions that were provided by the local authorities, and job tax credits, which are provided by the state, said Greg Wright, president of the Coweta Economic Development Authority.
Wright said he did not have details of the incentives package.
Even considering the cost of incentives, Wright said the hospital is a good addition to the community.
“We’re very excited to have a company of the caliber of CTCA coming into the community,” Wright said.
Here’s an economic snapshot of the CTCA hospital, as outlined by Kent:
- Grand opening set for September 2012;
- Hospital to cover 260,000 square feet, to be built in two phases over five years;
- 25 beds set up and staffed upon opening;
- 50 beds set up and staffed within five years, as demand grows;
- Opening staff of 150 to 160 employees;
- About 100 of the first-round employees to be hired from local region;
- Staff of 500 within five years;
- $50,000 will be average starting salary.