First Health Family Medicine celebrates grand opening at Northwood Landing

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – On April 9th, 2024, members of the Pittsboro community came together to celebrate the grand opening of First Health Family Medicine at Northwood Landing. With local dignitaries, healthcare professionals, and community members in attendance, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was a testament to an expanded commitment towards fostering wellness and vitality in the area.

Championing Quality Healthcare: A Community Endeavor

As Cheryl Littleton, representing the Chatham Chamber of Commerce, aptly highlighted in her address, the arrival of First Health Family Medicine signifies more than just the addition of another healthcare facility. It symbolizes a community’s unwavering dedication to ensuring the well-being of its residents. Littleton’s words resonated with the audience, emphasizing the intrinsic value of quality healthcare, particularly as individuals navigate the complexities of aging. The sentiment echoed by Mayor Kyle Shipp further underscored the community’s enthusiasm for the expansion, recognizing healthcare as a cornerstone of societal prosperity.

A Testament to Dedication and Excellence: First Health’s Commitment

At the heart of the ceremony was a acknowledgment of the dedication and excellence embodied by First Health Family Medicine. Dr. Dan Barnes, President of First Health Physician Group, expressed gratitude to all those involved in bringing the clinic to fruition. From the planning to the pursuit of superior patient care, Barnes’s emphasized the commitment of First Health to serve the community with distinction. Special recognition was extended to Dr. Jim Liffring for his instrumental role in stabilizing the clinic during its transition phase, underscoring the contributions of healthcare professionals in ensuring seamless operations.

Innovations in Healthcare: The Launch of the Lung Bus

Amidst the celebration surrounding the clinic’s inauguration, a groundbreaking initiative emerged as a beacon of hope in the fight against lung cancer. The introduction of the Lung Bus initiative, unveiled during the ceremony, heralds a new era of proactive healthcare interventions. Driven by the mission to enhance lung cancer screening and early detection, the initiative holds the promise of saving lives by identifying and treating the disease at its nascent stages. With the potential to revolutionize preventive care, the Lung Bus epitomizes the spirit of innovation and compassion that defines First Health’s approach to healthcare delivery.

First Health President, Dr. Dan Barnes, Discusses New Facility at Northwood Landing and Innovative Lung Cancer Screening Initiative

After the ribbon cutting ceremony I spoke with with Dr. Dan Barnes, President of First Health. He shed light on the opening of their new facility at Northwood Landing. Dr. Barnes revealed the motivations behind choosing this location and discussed a groundbreaking initiative to enhance lung cancer screening accessibility through a mobile CT scanner. This move not only signifies a strategic expansion for First Health but also underscores their commitment to advancing healthcare access and early detection efforts.

Expanding Access to Healthcare

Dr. Barnes spoke about the strategic decision to establish the new facility at Northwood Landing, citing the burgeoning growth and demand for healthcare services in the vicinity, particularly in areas near Pittsboro and Chatham Park. With a vision to provide greater accessibility for patient care, First Health identified Northwood Landing as an ideal location to cater to the evolving healthcare needs of the community.

Transition and Growth

Discussing the transition from the previous facility in Siler City to the new establishment, Dr. Barnes outlined the planning involved to minimize disruption to patient care during the relocation process. Despite the temporary closure, efforts were made to ensure continuous access to essential services, emphasizing First Health’s commitment to patient welfare during transitions.

Innovative Lung Cancer Screening Initiative

A groundbreaking addition to First Health’s repertoire is the introduction of a mobile CT scanner, colloquially known as the “lung bus,” aimed at enhancing lung cancer screening accessibility. Dr. Barnes explained that this initiative seeks to increase the availability of screenings throughout their service area, thereby facilitating early detection of lung cancer—a critical factor in improving treatment outcomes.

Early Detection for Improved Outcomes

The significance of early detection in lung cancer cannot be overstated, as Dr. Barnes highlighted. With advancements in treatment modalities, particularly surgical interventions, early-stage lung cancers are often completely curable. By leveraging state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities and mobile screening units, First Health endeavors to identify potential cases before symptoms manifest, thereby offering patients a higher chance of successful treatment outcomes.

Streamlined Process and Comprehensive Care

Dr. Barnes provides insights into the streamlined process involved in undergoing a CT scan through the mobile unit. Patients are guided through registration, imaging, and subsequent evaluation by a multidisciplinary team comprising radiologists, oncologists, surgeons, and other specialists. This collaborative approach ensures a comprehensive assessment and personalized treatment plan tailored to each patient’s needs.

Community Impact and Outreach

The deployment of the lung bus signifies First Health’s proactive approach to community outreach and education. By partnering with employers and reaching underserved communities, the initiative aims to raise awareness about the importance of lung cancer screening and early intervention. Through targeted events and outreach programs, First Health endeavors to make a tangible impact in reducing the burden of lung cancer in the community.

First Health Lung Cancer Screening CT Scanner: A Mobile Solution for Rural Communities

In some rural communities of North Carolina, where access to advanced medical technology can be as sparse as the population itself, a medical option has emerged. Enter the First Health Lung Cancer Screening CT Scanner, a mobile unit designed to bring life-saving screenings to undeserved areas. Josh Barnes explained that this initiative aims to combat the scourge of lung cancer by detecting it earlier and improving outcomes for those affected.

Reaching the Underserved

The First Health Lung Cancer Screening CT Scanner, affectionately dubbed the “lung bus,” is not just a vehicle but a symbol of accessibility. Josh Barnes, speaking on behalf of the initiative, underscores the critical importance of reaching populations that often fall through the cracks of traditional healthcare systems. “Our goal with this,” he explains, “is to increase access to cancer screenings and hopefully improve outcomes.”

The Low-Dose CT Scanner: A Weapon Against Cancer

At the heart of this mobile clinic lies the low-dose CT scanner, a powerful tool in the fight against lung cancer. By utilizing this technology, the team hopes to catch cancer at its earliest stages, increasing the likelihood of successful treatment and survival. Josh Barnes emphasizes the significance of early detection, stating, “We have a much greater likelihood of people making a full recovery and surviving.”

Navigating the Process

For those stepping onto the lung bus, the process is streamlined yet comprehensive. Registration, the lengthiest part, takes a mere 15 minutes, followed by a brief 10-15 minute scan. Barnes explained the procedure during the video conversation, assuring potential patients that the experience is both efficient and straightforward. “You will lay down,” he explains, “and the machine will lift the table up and pull it through to do the scan.”

Swift Results and Ongoing Care

In a time marked by anxiety and uncertainty, prompt communication of results is paramount. Barnes pointed out that the team’s goal is to provide patients with initial findings within a matter of days, alleviating the stress of waiting. Additionally, for those requiring further care, the initiative offers seamless coordination with primary care providers and oncology teams, ensuring a continuum of support.

Powering the Initiative: Mobility and Sustainability

One of the most remarkable aspects of the lung bus is its self-sufficiency. Equipped with a generator capable of powering a full day of scans, the unit can operate even in remote locations without access to traditional power sources. Barnes highlights this feature as a testament to the initiative’s commitment to reaching communities far and wide.

A Comprehensive Approach to Cancer Care

Beyond screenings, the First Health Lung Cancer Screening CT Scanner is part of a larger strategy to revolutionize cancer care in the region. Barnes points to the comprehensive cancer center in Pinehurst, celebrating its one-year anniversary, as evidence of this commitment. By consolidating services under one roof, the center aims to provide patients with a seamless and supportive experience throughout their cancer journey.

The First Health Lung Bus serves as a reminder that every individual, regardless of geography or circumstance, deserves a fighting chance against cancer.


Watch the Video on YouTube – Dr. Dan Barnes president of First Health at Northwood Landing – 4.9.24

00:15 Establishing healthcare facility for increased patient access

  • Why Northwood Landing was chosen as the ideal location for the facility
  • Transition from the previous facility in Siler City

00:58 Transitioning the clinic to a new facility

  • Recruiting providers and moving the practice to a new location
  • Ensuring minimal disruption to patient care during the transition period

01:30 First Health planned well for quick setup

  • The lung screening unit is a mobile CT scanner with its own generator
  • It doesn’t require any hookup

02:00 Increasing lung cancer screening availability

  • Focus on catching lung cancer early for curable treatment
  • Collaborating with employers and reaching underserved communities for awareness

02:40 Launching mobile health outreach with focus on lung cancer treatment.

  • Certifications and preparations completed in February for the outreach program.
  • Priority on early detection and ease of access for lung cancer patients.

03:17 Advanced diagnostic capabilities at First Health with bronchoscopic navigation

  • CT scanner helps identify patients with small cancer before symptoms appear
  • Staff register patients before going in through the CT scanner

03:58 Advanced medical record process and expert team for patient care.

  • Epic system used for electronic medical records and reviewed by radiologist for abnormalities.
  • Chess Clinic reviews nodules on CT scans and a team of oncology providers discuss best approach for patient care.

04:29 Continued growth and high-quality healthcare at First Health

  • Recognition through awards for consistent high-quality care
  • Focus on providing more access to care to help patients live healthier and longer

Watch the video on YouTube – Josh Barnes talks about First Health Lung Cancer Screening CT Scanner – 4.9.24

00:13 First Health lung bus increases access to low dose CT scans in rural areas.

  • The lung bus is reaching underserved populations in rural areas to increase screening rates.
  • The goal is to improve the staging of lung cancer through increased access to CT scans.

00:47 Using advanced CT scanner for early lung cancer detection

  • Goal is to catch cancer in early stages for better recovery
  • Process involves registration and some time before scan

01:18 Efficient Lung Cancer Screening Process

  • Lung bus coordinator helps with registration process which can take 15 minutes or so.
  • Actual CT scan process lasts 10-15 minutes with a CT Tech guiding the patient.

01:53 The CT scanner lifts the table and pulls it through to perform the scan

  • Patient is positioned on the table and moved through the machine for the scan
  • The section where the scans are performed is the vicinity where the lungs will land up

02:31 Efficient patient communication for initial study findings

  • The goal is to inform patients of initial findings within days to minimize anxiety
  • A streamlined process ensures delivering results to patients as soon as possible

02:59 Christine MC coordinates lung cancer screening process.

  • Ensures orders are placed and patients follow up with their PCP.
  • Coordinates with patients without established PCP, refers abnormal findings to oncology team.

03:33 The CT scanner has a self-sufficient generator for an 8-hour day of scanning.

  • The generator can realistically run for close to two days.
  • It can also hook up to shore power for extended use.

03:59 First Health Lung Cancer Screening CT Scanner in Pinehurst Cancer Center

  • Patients seeking lung cancer screening are referred to Pinehurst comprehensive cancer center.
  • Combining all cancer care services under one roof at the comprehensive Cancer Center for a better patient experience.