Regional Medical Center recently negotiated to join the University of Alabama at Birmingham Cancer Care Network, becoming one of the first affiliates in the network to expand access to leading health care.
The Anniston hospital will officially recognize the joint venture Wednesday. As part of event, Dr. Edward Partridge, director of the UAB Comprehensive Care Center, will speak at a community meeting at noon Wednesday at the Anniston City Meeting Center to discuss the benefits of the joint venture with the public.
RMC CEO David McCormack said the hospital’s affiliation with UAB would mean better treatment for cancer patients in Anniston. He said patients would have access to clinical trials normally available only at UAB.
“They are on the cutting edge of a lot of things,” McCormack said. “This will allow our patients to do these things here instead of having to go to Birmingham.”
Judy Gould, vice president of marketing and professional services at RMC, said one goal of UAB’s cancer network is to bring high-quality service to the community level.
“Not just to keep it on their campus … so everybody can have access,” Gould said.
RMC is one of only 22 hospitals in the state accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons for its comprehensive, multidisciplinary and quality patient care. It is currently just one of six hospitals in the UAB cancer network, which was created this year.
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is among the 40 cancer centers in the nation to meet the stringent criteria for the National Cancer Institute’s comprehensive designation.
“To get that designation, we have to do really high-quality research in prevention and control and high-quality cancer treatment,” Partridge said during a Thursday phone interview.
Partridge said the goal of the cancer network is to spread quality care to as many places as possible.
“We hope to both enhance ours and affiliates’ ability to provide quality care to patients as close to their homes as possible,” Partridge said. “What we want to do is work with affiliate hospitals to ensure that is being done.”
He said UAB would assist RMC and its other affiliate hospitals by helping with physician nursing and community education.
“They have a lot of resources available as far as education programs,” Gould said. “It helps us grow beyond our capabilities.”
Gould said several of RMC’s nursing staff would be visiting UAB on Monday to observe its nurse navigation program. The program provides cancer patients with help during treatment, including finding transportation and group therapy.
Partridge said UAB’s specialists would also be on hand for area cancer patients.
“Cancer can be a very complex disease,” Partridge said. “I think we can help by making ourselves available to discuss and advising patients if they should be treated at UAB or locally.”
Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561.