Endoscopy center to offer hospital-free screenings

The York County Endoscopy Center, the county's first free-standing endoscopy center, is expected to open in Rock Hill by late summer of next year, officials said.

Digestive Disease Associates is opening the center to meet an increased demand for screening colonoscopies, a procedure used to detect colorectal cancer, said gastroenterologist Dr. Stephen Bott with the practice.

The center -- which has been in the works since 2001 -- is to be located behind the Rock Hill practice on Glenwood Drive. The planned center has received a certificate of need from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Bott said the growing demand for the service is because of an American Cancer Society recommendation that men and women begin colorectal cancer screenings at age 50.

Many insurance companies and Medicaid pay for the preventive screening, which has further increased the need for the service, according to Bott.

The $2.5 million center will have three procedure rooms and 12 recovery/prep room areas, with the ability to treat 20 to 30 patients a day, Bott said.

GMK Associates of Columbia will be building the 8,000-square-foot center, and the construction is scheduled to begin in two to three weeks, Bott said.

Bott said his practice will continue to perform its high-risk and inpatient endoscopy procedures at Piedmont Medical Center.

PMC's chief nursing officer, Mary Kaye Halterman, said that the importance of scheduling an endoscopy at a hospital varies with each patient.

"While the typical procedure is low risk, emergent situations can arise," she said. "A hospital is fully equipped with the tools and expertise to address these situations. Additionally, Piedmont's endoscopy suites are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year."

More on the testing

• What is an endoscopy center? It is a free-standing outpatient ambulatory surgery center specializing in procedures used to diagnose and treat diseases of the digestive system.

• What is colorectal cancer? It is cancer that develops in the colon or rectum. Depending on where the cancer originates, it may be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer. In most people, colorectal cancers develop slowly over many years. Frequently, colorectal cancer begins as a noncancerous growth called a polyp that forms on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Not all polyps turn into cancer.

• Who is at risk? Several risk factors may increase a person's chance of developing colorectal cancer, such as age over 50, a family history of polyps or colorectal cancer, certain diets, pre-existing bowel disease, race, smoking, obesity, heavy alcohol use and type 2 diabetes.

• What is a screening colonoscopy? It is a test in which a lighted tube is inserted into the entire length of the colon and rectum displaying an image of the organs on a monitor. A colonoscopy allows the insertion of special instruments through the colonoscope or tube to remove suspicious areas such as polyps.

• How often should a screening colonoscopy be performed? The American Cancer Society recommends individuals begin screenings at age 50. The test should be repeated every 10 years for normal-risk individuals. Those with high-risk factors should follow their doctor's recommendations.

-- Source: The American Cancer Society