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New Partners

Baptist and Vanderbilt team up against cancer.

photograph by Razvanjp | Dreamstime.com

The state of Tennessee is stepping up to the plate to
 combat cancer with a new partnership between Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In October, executives at Baptist announced an agreement with Vanderbilt that will build a comprehensive cancer facility, create new clinical research trials and academic education opportunities, and enhance cancer programs, many of which will be available across Baptist’s 14-hospital system in the tri-state area.

“Baptist conducted a nationwide search for potential partners to expand our cancer research program,” says Jason Little, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Baptist. “We looked at everyone from Mayo and Cleveland to Moffitt down in Florida, and we ended up back in Tennessee deciding Vanderbilt was the best match for us. Vanderbilt truly does a fantastic job — they tailor care to meet the individual patient’s needs.” Little goes on to describe the partnership as based in “research, education, genomic study, and clinical trials.”

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) in Nashville is one of two facilities in Tennessee and 41 in the nation to be recognized as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. This partnership provides access to clinical research trials and genetic diagnostic tools for Baptist physicians as well as access to tissue banking, collaborative oncology initiatives, and research-based fellowship programs. In turn, Baptist has added nearly 30 oncologists, two Harvard-trained thoracic surgeons, and a breast cancer surgeon to their team of cancer professionals that will facilitate and participate in regional services like community seminars, jointly held disease-specific conferences, public education programs on cancer prevention, and joint application for grants and research funding.

“The physicians and staff get together often with experts [who are] spread out across the state and region, but the care is seamless to the patient for their benefit,” says Little.

In addition to vast opportunities in joint research, educational programming, and clinical trials, the agreement initiated the plans to build a comprehensive cancer center next to the Women’s Hospital on the Baptist campus in Memphis. “We are in the process of building a state-of-the-art cancer center for the Mid-South where patients can have access to comprehensive cancer care under one roof,” says Little. “It will provide multidisciplinary care and a team of physicians to decide the best course of treatment on a case-specific basis.” The facility, originally intended to be built at 1238 and 1280 South Germantown Parkway, changed locations to provide better access to a larger pool of specialists and experts to better treat each patient. Baptist plans to break ground on the facility in spring 2013 with the timeline of being fully operational 18 months later. “The facility is more than the bricks and mortar. It is the physicians, the programming, and research of the entire system working together to provide care that is individualized to the patients with access to state-of-the-art materials,” says Little.

While Vanderbilt and Baptist Health Care systems are undoubtedly strong independently, this unique partnership creates enhanced cancer care that is beneficial for the entire region and the potential for better cancer prevention through cutting-edge research. Little says, “Together we’re stronger. Research will be more robust, not only the latest clinical trials but individualized treatments for our patients.”

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