JUNE 1, 2011 – CEDAR RAPIDS, IA –Nearly 200 local physicians and St. Luke’s Hospital have announced a collaborative effort to consolidate their outpatient cancer services into a new Cedar Rapids Community Cancer Center. Designed to enhance clinical care and support for cancer patients, their families and caregivers, the Community Cancer Center will create a patient-centered, physician-led cancer center where a team-oriented approach will be used to solve the problems related to the care of cancer patients.
Historically, the bulk of cancer services are provided in physician offices with care plans evolving over time with periodic episodes of surgery or radiation occurring inside hospitals. The physicians aligned with the Community Cancer Center provide the vast majority of care in Cedar Rapids. The Community Cancer Center will be flexible enough to be inclusive of physicians regardless of their practice affiliation or location, yet includes formal mechanisms to better coordinate and improve care for cancer patients.
The Cancer Center will place a focus on the patient by working to facilitate a multi-disciplinary approach to care. The patient-centered model brings together providers from various specialties to provide a comprehensive assessment and care planning for cancer patients. Rather than requiring patients to navigate the many different parts of the local healthcare system, they’re instead given direct access to an entire team of clinicians offering a unified treatment plan and greater continuity of service.
“We believe a community model for cancer care remains the ideal approach for responding to the growing number of cancer needs in Iowa.” said Dr. Robert Brimmer, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa cancer surgeon and a founding member of the community cancer center coalition. “It will improve the care for patients through better coordination of care, adoption of evidence-based protocols and increased availability of supportive services.”
The Community Cancer Center will be located in the new Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Medical Pavilion located in the MedQuarter Regional Medical District. Physicians Clinic of Iowa has Linn County’s largest group of Board Certified medical and surgical oncology providers who manage care for thousands of patients each year through comprehensive prevention, detection and treatment services. St. Luke’s Hospital has been providing cancer services throughout its 127 years of existence and cares for an equal number of cancer patients in the Cedar Rapids area.
“We believed all along that the cancer center of the future for our community would not be attached to either hospital, but rather where the doctors are,” said Ted Townsend, President and CEO of St. Luke’s. “Cancer care is different today than 30 years ago. In the old days a cancer diagnosis was often a death sentence. Today, for many it is the new chronic disease, something to be managed over years, and hopefully decades. Hospitals don’t do that. Doctors do.”
The decision to consolidate its outpatient cancer services into the new PCI Medical Pavilion reverses a St. Luke’s board decision of three years ago to build its own cancer center. Those plans were suspended for two years as physicians in the community asked if there was an opportunity to consolidate services from both hospitals and the physicians into a single community cancer center. Those efforts were abandoned last summer after Mercy Medical Center determined to build independently, yet many continued to support a more collaborative approach.
“What differentiates the Community Cancer Center from our current way of practice is a structure for a “true” community cancer center," said Dr. James Renz, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa cancer surgeon. “An integrated model, built around physicians, serving patients.”
“Treating cancer has evolved over the years and our multidisciplinary approach sets the mark of excellence for the entire region,” said Dr. J. David Cowden, Respiratory and Critical Care Associates. “The Community Cancer Center brings to life the vision of coordinated, comprehensive and expert care to a unique set of patients. We should all be proud.”
More than a dozen healthcare organizations involved in the Center represent more than twenty medical and surgical specialties including medical oncology, general and thoracic surgery, internal medicine, primary care, radiology, plastic surgery, pathology, urology, pulmonology, neurosurgery and others.
“What this does is signify a commitment of community physicians and stakeholders to develop a more coordinated approach to cancer care,” said Randy Easton, past St. Luke’s board chair and a member of the coalition that worked on the community cancer center collaboration over the past three years. “The intent is not to duplicate services but instead jointly govern and collaborate to expand programs as needed, particularly those services not offered in the community today.”
Over time it is hoped the Center will further reduce patient care costs and overall capital expenditures as healthcare providers work together to plan the shared facility and technology investments.
A multi-disciplinary physician group has been established to provide leadership for the Community Cancer Center. Work on patient care coordination will begin immediately while awaiting shared space in the new Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Medical Pavilion, which is scheduled to open in early 2013.