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Heartland Cancer Center gains access to more clinical trials, research data
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Claudia Perez-Tamayo, M.D., and Gary Doolittle, M.D., chat after a meeting at Heartland Cancer Center. Dr. Perez-Tamayo is the radiation oncologist at Heartland, and Dr. Doolittle was in town to talk about the recent KU Cancer Centers National Cancer Institute designation with St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center personnel. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

It’s a classic case of one thing leading to another, and in this instance, Heartland Cancer Center patients are the beneficiaries.
It all began when St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center recently became a member of the Midwest Cancer Alliance (MCA), which is associated with the University of Kansas Cancer Center. Along with the membership came a long list of local services and programs.
Next, the KU Cancer Center earned designation as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) facility in June. So, in addition to the earlier MCA offerings, local cancer patients now also have access to more clinical trials and the most up-to-date research.
Several MCA representatives recently traveled to Great Bend and met with personnel from St. Rose, which owns Heartland Cancer Center. They talked about the decade-long KU effort to become an NCI facility, as well as what it means.
“We knew we wanted to reach more people and have a larger network of physicians,” MCA Medical Director Gary Doolittle, M.D., said. “To do this, you have to collaborate. That is one of the KU Cancer Center’s distinguishing characteristics – we have a true regional focus.”
St. Rose is one of 17 MCA members throughout Kansas and western Missouri that can take advantage of KU’s services. Two examples are Interactive Television consultations with physicians in Kansas City, and the open-to-the-public MCA presentations at St. Rose.
“In addition,” Dr. Doolittle said, “Heartland Cancer Center patients now will have access to clinical trials that are available only to NCI-designated cancer centers. And the KU Cancer Center can apply for federal research grants, also only available for those with the NCI designation.
“Everyone benefits from this network,” the physician added. “The NCI designation is the stamp of approval. It is opening so many doors. But not just on the clinical side. There are also new possibilities for supportive care, prevention programs and survivor information. These are extremely important too.”
Hope Krebill, MCA executive director, noted that her organization has been impressed with St. Rose’s participation since it became a member.
“You have been a member for only a few months and we are thrilled with what you are doing,” Krebill said. “You are already having ITV consultations with your patients and opening our presentations to the public.
“We rely on you to tell us what you need,” Krebill added. “MCA and KU want to help you with services right here in Great Bend. Bringing this expertise to the patient instead of asking the patient to travel is always foremost in our minds.”
Mark Mingenback, St. Rose director of business strategy and marketing, said the NCI designation is great news for local cancer patients.
“The St. Rose team knows that our new relationship with MCA, KU, and now the National Cancer Institute is a strong step in the direction of collaborating with the best minds in the field of oncology,” Mingenback said. “The result is the best possible cancer care for our patients at Heartland Cancer Center.”