- [S106] The Mountain Press, 22 Mar 2007.
Cancer center key point of new hospital
By: STAN VOIT
March 22, 2007
PIGEON FORGE - When Chester Ramsey was a senior at the University of Tennessee his grandfather, J.H. Reagan of Sevier County, was diagnosed with an advanced stage of lung cancer.
"I was his only grandchild, and yet he found the strength to stay and see me get my degree," Ramsey said. "I was the first one in my immediate family to graduate from college. He died nine months after he was diagnosed, and I made a promise to him that if God gave me the ability, I would spend the rest of my life on cancer research and finding treatments."
Indeed he has. Dr. Chester Ramsey is a top researcher at Knoxville's Thompson Cancer Survival Center, and his work and that of his colleagues have made the center one of the top 10 cancer facilities in the U.S. Now Thompson will have a facility on the new campus of Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center in Sevierville, a point he drove home Tuesday during a luncheon at MainStay Suites to encourage support for the new hospital.
The Dr. Robert Thomas Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the hospital, has a goal of collecting $10 million in community donations to go with Covenant Health's $90 million investment in the new campus. Groundbreaking for the hospital/cancer center project is scheduled for sometime in May, with completion in about two years.
Ramsey and other speakers noted how much time, money and effort it takes for Sevier County residents to travel to Knoxville or elsewhere for cancer treatment and doctor visits.
Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley, whose wife Sheri was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2003, estimated he and his wife traveled 11,000 miles to Knoxville and occasionally out of state for treatments and to see doctors. After he considered Houston's famed M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for her treatments, his wife put a stop to it.
"She said, 'We're staying home,'" Atchley said. Had the Thompson center been open in Sevierville, Sheri Atchley could have had her radiation and chemo treatments a five-minute drive from their home. She died in 2005.
"I urge you, as you think about giving, how many lives would be affected in Sevier County by this new hospital," Atchley said. "Dr. Thomas talked about this hospital one day being the Mayo Clinic of the South. We have an opportunity to make the future of Sevier County dynamic. There is no more significant single project we've got going on than this hospital."
Sevier County and Sevierville governments have made a financial commitment to the Thomas Foundation fund-raising effort. So have some businesses and individuals. Debbie Dowling, foundation director, said a major public push for community support is coming up.
Linda Ogle and Emily Kile, foundation board members, are co-chairing the fund-raising drive. Kile is a breast cancer survivor who lost her father to cancer.
"Why build this hospital?" she said. "The real reason is to be at home (for treatments), where you can feel safe and comfortable and where your stress level can be minimized."
Ogle said the economic impact of the hospital will be considerable, as it attracts new doctors and staff members who will buy houses and shop in local stores.
The current hospital is on around 14 acres. The new campus across the street on the old Dan River property will use a portion of 74 available acres.
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
RAMSEY, HERMAN OLIVER REAGAN, PATRICIA ANN 1971-07-09
- [S126] The Official Marriage Records of Sevier County Tennessee 1945-1971, Volume III, Smoky Mountain Historical Society, (Copyright 2008), ISBN 1-890150-00-5.
- [S131] Divorce Record.
Husband's Name Wife's First Name Wife's Maiden Name County Court Date of Divorce File #
RAMSEY HERMAN O PATRICIA R [NOT GIVEN] SEVIER [NOT GIVEN] 12-07-1983 27579