Healthwatch 16: New GI Suite at Geisinger-CMC

SCRANTON -- Geisinger-CMC's $97.1 million renovation project is now officially complete, as of last week, with the opening of the hospital's new gastrointestinal suite in Scranton.

That $1.7 million GI suite is more than eight times the size of the old one which doctors say in this area, will be put to very good use.

At a certain age -- 50 for most of us, but earlier for some -- doctors will recommend a colonoscopy, a test that allows doctors to look inside the large intestine.

It's a screening that, at age 75, Kevin Boyles' father never had.

"He didn't like to go to the doctor, tried to avoid screenings and medical appointments in general, and had been admitted to GMC in early 2010 for some cardiac conditions," said Boyles. "While he was there they ran some additional tests, found he had Stage 4 colon cancer that had already metastasized."

That means it had already spread through his body, even though his dad felt no symptoms. He died just four months later.

"I have two daughters. They were 9 and 12 at the time, and to tell them their granddad was sick and he wasn't going to be getting better."

Kevin wanted to see the new gastrointestinal or GI suite at Geisinger-CMC, the final phase of a years-long renovation project at the hospital in Scranton.

Open for about a week now, it's a 12,000 square foot space that Dr. Charles Grad calls the perfect setting, much better than the old suite.

"It was certainly adequate, but it was not ideal."

Dr. Grad says there's more room to see more patients for a variety of services, and better privacy once patients are in recovery.

Colonoscopies are just one type of test they'll do here. But they're an important piece of the puzzle: colon cancer rates are higher in northeastern Pennsylvania than the national average, and colon cancer can be prevented.

"The assumption is that this is 90 percent preventable," Dr. Grad said. "If you can do a screening colonoscopy, identify and remove those polyps, you can prevent colon cancer."

Kevin later found out two of his father's siblings also had colon cancer, which puts him in a high-risk category. He'll be checked often.

"I'm pleased to see this suite being built, and hopefully, utilized."

As always, it's best to talk to your own doctor about your risk factors to figure out when or how often you should be checked for colon cancer.