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 multidisciplinary team led by 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 while improving care coordination, said Nancy Brady, chief operating officer for AU Medical Associates.
“In addition to bringing healthcare to the community to better serve our patients, there is a second financial reason to open the infusion center at our West Wheeler campus,” she said. “Effective January 2021, some carriers have changed their reimbursement policies which could lead to higher out-of-pocket cost to our patients. 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 medication assistance coordinator to assist patients in lowering out-of-pocket costs in the event they have high deductible, large co-pay insurance, or do not have insurance coverage by working with pharmaceutical and foundation assistance programs.
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.