PIKEVILLE, Ky.—During the virtual 2020 SOAR Summit held October 28th – 29th, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and U.S. Representative Hal Rogers (KY-05) announced the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) Leonard Lawson Cancer Center Expansion project for $4.27 million was selected for funding through the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot grant program. The AML funds, which are intended to bolster job growth and economic development in the Eastern Kentucky region, will be used for the expansion of the PMC Leonard Lawson Cancer Center to provide an additional 37 full-time healthcare jobs.
“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,” Congressman Rogers said.
Since 2016, Congressman Rogers has focused on economic development and job creation in Appalachia and has championed $540 million in federal funding for the AML Pilot program, of which $130 million has been awarded in Kentucky.
This funding will allow the Leonard Lawson Cancer Center to increase by 7,000 square feet on the 11th floor of the PMC Clinic Building. New chemotherapy suites will be constructed alongside the specialized pharmacy designed specifically for the cancer center. These funds will also be used to build new exam rooms and purchase much needed equipment.
“Many cancer patients in our region have no choice but to travel outside of our region and, many times, out of our state for treatment,” explained PMC Vice President of the Board of Directors and CEO, Donovan Blackburn. “This funding will change that. With this funding, these patients will receive advanced treatment close to home, which will support our mountain families and our local economy.”
PMC’s AML Pilot project to expand the cancer center will not only focus on economic development, but also improving the health of the community.
“It’s how we build a stronger Eastern Kentucky and a better Kentucky for everyone,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “We are committed to working with our federal partners to help deliver the best possible care for all of our citizens.”
In Eastern Kentucky, lung cancer incidence and mortality rates are alarmingly higher than in non-Appalachian areas. In 2019, PMC’s Leonard Lawson Cancer Center had over 25,000 patient interactions, more than 6,600 chemotherapy visits and nearly 20,000 outpatient visits.
“Expansion is necessary to provide more advanced cancer care and to save more lives,” said Dr. Aaron Crum, Assistant CEO and PMC Chief Medical Officer. “This is a monumental step toward the next generation of cancer care at PMC.
“This investment in Eastern Kentucky will help us reach out beyond the walls of the hospital and broaden the scope of what we can provide to the region,” explained Blackburn. “With the support of Governor Beshear, Congressman Rogers, Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman and the AML staff who are willing to invest in improving Eastern Kentucky and growing our economy, we will continue to see our hospital grow. In addition, our patients will continue to receive the quality cancer care they deserve. We look forward to working with Secretary Goodman and the AML staff on this project.”
In 2020, the AML Pilot Program has $25 million in federal grant money available through the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands for projects in Appalachian counties with historic coal mining sites to create long-term economic benefits.