Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 4, 2012

Johnson named new cancer center director

CROSSVILLE — For Jordan Johnson, new director of the Cumberland Medical Center Regional Cancer Center, fighting cancer is more than a job — it's a calling. As he was beginning his training, his parents were diagnosed with cancer and he treated them both.

"It's a commitment to me," Johnson said. "For me, there is no greater feeling in my treatment then to give a child another birthday or to give a husband and wife another anniversary. To give the gift of quality of life and those extra birthdays is precious. I look at everybody who walks through those doors as my family."

Johnson came to CMC through its partnership with Thompson Cancer Survival Center, which has partnered with the local hospital to oversee radiation oncology services to patients in Cumberland and surrounding counties.

Johnson is from Kilgore, TX, in East Texas. He earned a bachelor's degree in radiologic technology from the University of Louisiana-Monroe and began working in x-ray, diagnostic imaging and CT before he was accepted to the radiation therapy school at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

In 2008, he worked at Duke University Medical Center in the radiation oncology department. He was working there until starting his journey at CMC March 6.

"I was raised in a small town and you venture out and go to the big city and then, my goal was to come back and serve quality healthcare in a smaller setting," Johnson said.

Johnson has been impressed with the quality of care offered by the Regional Cancer Center. That's important as cancer incident rates continue to rise everywhere and more patients in rural settings are being affected.

"Oftentimes, people in the smaller communities, this is their home. They don't want to uproot and leave," Johnson said, adding radiation treatments often last four to six weeks with treatments five days a week. "They don't want to have to travel outside of their comfort zones."

As little as 10 years ago, patients had no choice but to leave their communities, Johnson said, because of the quality of care issues.

"We weren't able to bring the sophisticated equipment, protocols or research to the smaller communities. Now, we can," he said. "We can give the same quality of care here in the smaller community."

Johnson noted the Regional Cancer Center offered equipment parallel to the equipment he worked with at MD Anderson and Duke.

"It's the same sophisticated, state-of-the-art technology," he said.

The partnership between CMC and Thompson Cancer Survival Center will add another layer of depth to the treatment available through the Regional Cancer Center, as well, Johnson said. For example, the Regional Cancer Center cannot treat pediatric cancer patients, but that care is available through the Thompson network.

"It just creates depth of care for the patients. If there is something that we're limited in here, they're still in our network and there are resources we can use to provide care for the patient," he said.

That network also means four to six physicians that can review treatment plans, providing perspective and input from several physicians and providing greater patient safety.

He's also found a welcoming staff ready to pitch in and help get the job done.

"We're all here with the common goal to serve the patients," Johnson said. "People here aren't just here for a paycheck. There are other things that are required to make things happen, and they are willing to go that extra mile, work extra."

He said the fight against cancer is a team effort at the Regional Cancer Center, from the medical physicist and dosimetrist to the therapists, nurses and office and tumor registry staff.

"If any link is not on board, it's not a well-oiled machine," Johnson said. "The staff here works well together and they feed off each other's energy."

He's also enjoying settling into his new community, where he and his wife, Emily, are making their home. He's already been getting out and meeting people and speaking to groups about the services available at the Regional Cancer Center.

"I miss that pace of life in the small town where you slow down and get to have relationships with people," Johnson said.

Johnson is a committee member for ASRT CRTA, a JRCERT site visitor, ASRT Grassroots member and CARE Bill advocate.

To learn more about the CMC Regional Cancer Center and the services available, visit www.cmchealthcare.org.

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