April 16, 2021 by John Fernandez
Expanded Cancer Program Means Better Care for the Community
When it comes to cancer, treatment delays can lead to less favorable outcomes and even a greater chance of death from certain cancers. Thanks to Baptist Health’s expanded cancer program ― a result of the integration of Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Eugene M. & Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute and Miami Cancer Institute ― patients receive expedited care with the specialists and services they need, no matter where they are located.
Together, the two programs make a powerful team, offering personalized treatment options with a multidisciplinary approach based on physicians’ clinical expertise, advanced technology and innovative clinical trials.
“Our programs are really the anchors of cancer care from the Keys to Palm Beach,” says Louise Morrell, M.D., medical director of Lynn Cancer Institute. “Our common goal is to ensure that every patient with cancer, or at high risk, has access to the very best care available. Integration means widening our circle of expertise and having support as we expand.”
Combined Camcer Conferences
One way the team broadens its scope is through collaboration at combined cancer conferences where physicians from both Institutes discuss patient cases together. By pooling their knowledge and uniting their strengths, specialists provide input to evaluate options and create the best customized plan for each patient. And Lynn Cancer Institute and Miami Cancer Institute share the philosophy that multidisciplinary clinics that allow the patient to see multiple specialists in their disease (surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists) in one visit afford the greatest convenience to patients.
Lynn Cancer Institute is already the largest provider of cancer care in Palm Beach County and one of the largest in Florida. Miami Cancer Institute is Baptist Health’s cancer care anchor, offering a full array of services, and is Florida’s only member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, an alliance encompassing collaboration in clinical trials and standards of care.
Both centers drive care through the latest molecular testing and state-of-the-art technology. Patients and their families are supported by genetic counseling, a full range of psychosocial services that include dietitians, social workers, exercise physiologists, psychologists and psychiatrists, palliative and pastoral care, and wellness and survivorship programs.
For those in Palm Beach County who need specialized services available only at Miami Cancer Institute, the referral process is accelerated, with physicians who know each other and are comfortable working together. Some of those services include stem cell transplantation, CAR T-Cell therapy and highly targeted radiation therapy in the form of sophisticated proton therapy and the MR-Linac, another new form of highly precise and targeted radiation therapy.
Another advantage of integration is establishing joint standards of care that physicians agree will result in the best patient outcomes. “The staff at Lynn Cancer Institute has put considerable effort into this work, and by combining the insights, knowledge and skills we have at both facilities, we are able to define the best evidence-based standards of care,” says Leonard Kalman, M.D., deputy medical director and chief medical officer at Miami Cancer Institute.
The integration of Lynn Cancer Institute and Miami Cancer Institute also allows for greater support of the planned expansion of Lynn Cancer Institute, including new technology and the addition of cancer services at Bethesda Health City, an outpatient facility located between Baptist Health’s Bethesda Hospital East and Bethesda Hospital West. A larger, integrated program also makes Baptist Health’s cancer care services a more attractive clinical research partner to the pharmaceutical and device industries.
Integration has also helped each institution deal more effectively with the COVID-19 pandemic. During a combined weekly Command Center meeting, the teams discuss the pandemic’s ever-changing implication for cancer patients. “We ensured we had a common approach and standard safety procedures,” says Dr. Morrell. “Being part of a larger healthcare system enabled us to have enough personal protective equipment for staff and patients and guaranteed the medications we needed would be available.”