Located on the second floor inside Entrance D, the center is designed to provide intravenous medications for people who have hematological, nephrological, endocrinological, neurological or similar conditions.
“We’ve been giving these medications at the Georgia Cancer Center downtown, but an outpatient environment is often more convenient for our patients,” said Dr. Charles Howell, CEO of Augusta University Medical Associates.
The center features eight chairs for adults and two for pediatric patients. Included on staff will be a physician, pharmacy team and nursing team.
The move is part of a greater initiative to get outpatient services out into the community to better serve patients. In November, AU Health opened AU Imaging and Children’s Hospital Pediatric Multispecialty on Wheeler Road. The new infusion center joins specialty clinics for orthopedics, heart and vascular care, sports medicine and eye care, to name a few, on the West Wheeler campus.
This effort will ultimately make these services more cost-effective for patients, said Nancy Brady, chief operating officer for AU Medical Associates.
“Part of our reason for doing this was because the patients will end up paying a higher reimbursement if they’re in a hospital outpatient (setting) for some carriers, because the insurance companies are changing their reimbursement policies,” she said. “So if they continue to go into a hospital outpatient site, which is what our cancer center is, they could end up with higher bills out of pocket.”
Also on staff at the infusion clinic will be a pharmacy advisor who can assist patients with financial needs in the event they do not have insurance coverage. The advisor will work with drug programs designed to help patients afford necessary medications.
Currently, only patients who are under care for non-cancer treatments will be transitioned to the new infusion clinic, and patients will need their physician’s referral.