West Georgia Oncology – a new West Georgia Physicians clinic – officially threw its arms open Tuesday to embrace its new director, Dr. Wassim McHayleh, with an open house.
For Dr. McHayleh, this is just another point in a long journey that brought him to sunny Georgia all the way from sunny Beirut, Lebanon. A native of Lebanon, Dr. McHayleh began studying medicine at St. Joseph University in Beirut, a Jesuit school considered one of the best universities in the Middle East.
His residency brought him to Washington, D.C. where he served at George Washington University Medical Center then to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he studied oncology and hematology. After practicing privately in Thomasville, Georgia, McHayleh served as an assistant professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University in Atlanta before being tapped as the Director of Oncology Services here.
He’s only been here two months and of LaGrange he says, “I love it. It’s awesome.”
“I get the feeling of family,” McHayleh says of the staff of the cancer center. And the staff has embraced him fully.
“He brings empathy and compassion,” declares Charlene McClanahan, who has been working to build the staff of the cancer center. Dr. McHayleh’s installation is a crowning achievement for the hospital and LaGrange as a whole, she says.
Catennia Foster, the center’s infusion tech speaks glowingly of the staff’s new head, “he’s very nice and knowledgeable.”
“If I have to go through this again,” says cancer care navigator, Wanda Lowe, referring to her own former battle with cancer, “I know who I’m going to. He’s very personable and he’s very attached to the staff.”
Lowe bubbles over with energy and joy as she talks about Dr. McHayleh and the new cancer center which is situated in the space that once served as the hospital’s Emergency Department. The space has been remodelled as a state of the art oncology infusion center for handling both radiation treatments and chemotherapy.
She notes that all the staff is specially certified for dealing with cancer patients and that the clinic is fully “scrutinized and certified” by the Commission on Cancer.
The center is bright, airy and cheerful. The enthusiasm the staff expresses for their work and each other is infectious. All around, the staff and the new director smile and laugh.
A former cancer patient attending the open house described cancer treatment as a necessary poison. He continued, “if you have to be poisoned, this is the place to do it.”