Exempla Introduces New Cancer Center
November 13, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Exempla introduces new cancer center
The new center brings together in one place Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital’s (ESJH) Breast Care Center, cancer psychosocial services, medical and surgical oncology, a cancer laboratory, a research department, a new cancer pharmacy and the Infusion Center. Perhaps more importantly, it will provide a new standard for integrated care offered by an eminently qualified team of physicians and staff, led by Medical Director Dr. Richard Hesky and Executive Director Michele Carey.
“What distinguishes the program are not just the services we provide but how we have put them together so that our cancer professionals – from oncologists to lab technicians to psychotherapists to infusion specialists to radiologists – interact with one another to provide fully coordinated care to each patient,” says Carey.
One key to the coordinated care is the “care conference” in which physicians and specialist teams outline treatment protocols for patients so that care is appropriate and complete – and so that treatment and diagnostic options are not duplicated.
A second key to the coordinated care is a new electronic medical record (EMR) system – Impac Mosaiq – that is especially designed for cancer programs and is compatible with Saint Joseph’s new Epic electronic record system used throughout the rest of the hospital.
With the use of the EMR, all patient care is documented electronically, and all caregivers have access to patient information in real time. “With our EMR,” Carey says, “you’re not waiting on dictation and faxing reports and waiting on lab work.” The EMR also generates regular and timely reports to the patient’s primary care physician. “Primary care physicians will know at any point during the patient’s care exactly what is going on,” according to Carey.
Referring physicians can also be assured of the quality of care each patient will receive because of the caliber of physicians and staff assembled for the program. The Breast Care Center, for example, includes medical director Dr. Denise Norton, a breast surgeon with more than 20 years experience in her specialty, and Dr. Jerome Schroeder, one of the few fellowship-trained breast care radiologists in the state.
Dr. Shawn Young, the center’s surgical oncologist, is also fellowship-trained, one of only three in Denver, as are the four medical oncologists at the center: Dr. Hesky, Dr. Kerry Fisher, Dr. Alice Luknic and Dr. Deborah Cook.
Dr. Jeff Kendall, who has devoted his entire career to treating the psychological needs of cancer patients, leads the psychosocial services team. Dr. Mercedes Dombi, PharmD, will manage the on-site cancer center pharmacy.
The cancer team will work in a facility designed to support its integrated approach to cancer care and to give team members access to leading-edge technology. The Breast Center, located on the first floor, will offer digital mammography, MRI-guided biopsy, ultrasound and stereotactic breast biopsy, and Dexa bone density. An important part of the program includes expanding the already well-established mobile mammography van program. There will also be a continuation of the weekly multidisciplinary patient treatment conference.
The first floor will also house the psychosocial services unit under Dr. Kendall’s leadership. Every cancer patient will go through distress screening, because two-thirds of cancer patients experience psychosocial distress and 20% to 30% experience profound distress. To help patients in distress, the team’s services include individual and group sessions with a psychologist, social worker, and/or dietitian who all have advanced training in psychosocial oncology. In addition, the department offers access to The Wellness Community, cancer specific support groups and alternative therapies that include massage, art and pet therapy.
The second floor houses exam rooms for surgical oncology and medical oncology, the research department and the on-site laboratory. The on-site lab will expedite getting real-time test results, according to Carey, which will support more efficient chemotherapy because “you want to have those lab results prior to giving it,” Carey says.
The third floor houses both the Infusion Center and the pharmacy, along with administrative offices. The new Infusion Center will double the current capacity, going from 12 infusion chairs to 26 chairs and 2 private beds. The Infusion Center is staffed with registered nurses who have been specially trained in oncology, who are certified in administering chemotherapy and who have years of experience in caring for cancer patients.
Radiation Oncology and inpatient cancer care will remain in the main hospital at Exempla Saint Joseph for the time being. ESJH continues to invest in radiation oncology, expanding the department to five board-certified radiation oncologists and, last year, adding a state-of-the-art Trilogy linear accelerator to treat patients needing cranial or body stereotactic radiosurgery. For that surgery, the Trilogy linear accelerator delivers an extremely high dose of radiation to a precisely targeted location, producing few, if any, side effects.
“It is also much more comfortable for patients,” Carey points out. “Unlike similar procedures, patients don’t have to be immobilized; they are free to just lie down and be treated quickly.”
Even though this department is among the busiest in the state, the presence of 5 Radiation Oncologists allows each patient to have highly individualized care. The inpatient cancer unit has recently expanded to 22 beds – all the rooms are private. The unit is located at ESJH; this location serves both surgical and medical oncology patients. This dedicated Oncology unit has one of the highest percentages of BSN prepared and certified nurses in the hospital. Our Oncology patients receive care from specially trained oncology nurses, a rarity in Denver, Carey points out. “These are nurses trained in oncology care who understand the needs of cancer patients.”
At both the radiation oncology unit and inpatient unit, as well as at the new center, says Carey, the objective for the cancer program at Saint Joseph Hospital is the same: to provide the safest and most satisfying care with the best outcomes – and the greatest value to patients and referring physicians.
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