East Alabama Medical Center moves to build new cancer center

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - New details as a hospital announces big plans for the future. The East Alabama Medical Center will begin work on a brand new, $40 million cancer center.

This after getting approval form Alabama's Health Planning Agency during a hearing at the state capitol in Montgomery.

EAMC sent the application for the center in November 2016, and got the certification from state officials during Wednesday's meeting.

News Leader 9 confirmed with hospital representatives that during their presentation to state officials in Montgomery, executives said the current cancer center reached its full capacity, so the hospital needed additional room.

Once the new building officially opens, though, they will close the current center.

Members of the community gave their take on what this project means to the city.

Ayesha Whitfield, a non-emergency medical transport driver, said she knows a lot of people will drive to Birmingham, which she calls a long trip, just to get treatment.

"If they're on Medicaid, they can't really afford to make that trip," she said, "so you know, is big for a lot of people."

Earl Piner, who's lived in Opelika for 30 years, said patients already have many concerns on top of receiving the proper treatment.

"You take into consideration travel, lodging, the treatments alone... I don't know how much they would have cost," he said.

"Having something local like that," Piner said about the new cancer center, "I think would be a tremendous asset to the community."

The hospital has not officially named a starting date for construction, but hospital representatives said it should take around 18 months to get the new facility up and running.

News Leader 9 also confirmed the new center will be built right on Village Professional Drive, near Birmingham Highway and Pepperell Parkway.

Copyright 2017 WTVM. All rights reserved.