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New Winship Phase I Clinical Trials Unit Opens

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Catherine S. Williams

Winship Phase I Unit team members from left to right: Turquoise Mann, Tina Williams, Carolyn Belmore, Jennifer Schreiber, Kristine Culver, Colleen Lewis, John Bourgeois and Monica Goodman.

Emory leaders, faculty, staff, and administrators gathered on December 10th to celebrate the official opening of Winship Cancer Institute's new Phase I Clinical Trials Unit. The Winship Phase I Unit, on the fourth floor of the Emory University Hospital Tower, is the largest unit in Georgia dedicated to the critical phase of testing new cancer therapies.

"Clinical trials are foundational to our mission of developing and delivering treatments that reduce the burden of cancer," says Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship Cancer Institute. "The new Phase I Clinical Trials Unit is a tremendous resource that will enable the very best research in the clinical setting."

The new unit is triple the size of Winship's original unit, now nine years old. There will be space provided for 15 private treatment bays, four clinic rooms, plus many resources the original unit did not have, including its own lab for doing patient blood work, a dedicated secure medication room, computer workspace for research staff, and a "fast track" bay with three chairs for rapid use in patients who, for example, might need only a research lab test done. The treatment bays all have full length windows that provide light as well as campus and skyline views.

"It has been an uplifting experience to see the partnership in a new space designed from the ground up by the people who will actually use the space," says R. Donald Harvey, Pharm D, director of the Winship Phase I Clinical Trials Unit. "The integrated process produced an outstanding clinic that is both patient-focused and able to support the rigorous demands of early phase clinical research in cancer."

The new space was designed by a multi-disciplinary team of patients, nurses, physicians, research and unit staff, and pharmacists. In a unique design process called integrated facility design, the team worked together for weeks planning and sketching out floor plans and then saw their ideas transformed into a life-size 3-dimensional model built of cardboard. They ran clinical scenarios in the cardboard model and tweaked the design so it provided good work flow and incorporated important details to enhance safety, efficiency and comfort.

"We will be able to treat more patients in this new space with the highest standards of safety and efficiency," says Colleen Lewis, NP, lead nurse practitioner of the Phase I Unit. "It was also designed for the comfort and convenience of patients, their caregivers, and for the staff."

Staff have started training in the new space and will start treating patients at the beginning of January.

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