Joel Helmke, who previously was a member of the leadership team at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, was named WellStar’s corporate vice president of oncology services.
WellStar has cancer centers in both its WellStar Cobb Hospital in Austell and WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta. In 2012, the last year WellStar recorded the number, the centers diagnosed 3,306 cancer cases, which is about 8 percent of the total diagnosed cases in Georgia.
“WellStar has the ambitious goal of becoming the premier provider of oncology services within the Southeast,” said Candice Saunders, president and COO of WellStar Health System.
Saunders said she thinks hiring Helmke will help grow the oncology center in the future.
“To be the best, we must hire the best. Joel Helmke is a proven leader from one of the most prestigious cancer centers in the country,” Saunders said. “He will be a great resource as WellStar continues to grow its oncology program.”
Before moving to WellStar, Helmke was at MD Anderson for 14 years, where he was most recently the division administrator of internal medicine. In the role, he served as the manager for four clinical centers and nine academic departments.
While at MD Anderson, Helmke helped the department grow. He led an effort to bolster the prevention and survivorship service sector of the facility, which brought in 55,000 new patients through 110,000 visits.
In the oncology program at WellStar, Helmke will work with the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which is a nationally-recognized cancer care center.
WellStar often collaborates with Mayo Clinic Care, said Tyler Pearson, a WellStar spokesman.
WellStar is the largest nonprofit health system in Georgia and has facilities in five counties, serving 1.4 million people.