by Luciana Starks
The recent launch of the City of Hope Medical Foundation has brought five community practices under the City of Hope umbrella, extending the institution’s reach to more patients in central and northern Los Angeles and Riverside counties.
|Todd Walker, chief radiation therapist, prepares a Varian unit for use. (Photo by Luciana Starks)|
Physicians in the City of Hope Medical Group, which contracts with the new City of Hope Medical Foundation, see a wide variety of patients in South Pasadena, Antelope Valley, Santa Clarita, Glendale and Palm Springs. These community practices allow City of Hope to provide care closer to many patients’ homes, making their cancer diagnosis, therapy and follow-up more convenient.
“The community practices provide an exciting opportunity to build on our strengths,” said Robert Stone, J.D., president and executive officer of the City of Hope Medical Foundation. “Working together with our physicians through the City of Hope Medical Foundation, we can bring City of Hope’s quality care to more Southern Californians.”
Amy Plemons, R.N., B.S.N., director of clinical operations and satellite operations, noted: “We’re pleased to be providing this much-needed service to our patients in their own communities. Patients can get all of their outpatient care in one location. It lets us spread City of Hope’s expertise farther.”
Vijay Trisal, M.D., staff surgeon and community practices representative on the medical group board, said easy access to care is important. “Community practices mean that patients do not have to travel and negotiate unfamiliar territory. In times when they are dealing with a life-impacting decision, the stress of travel is onerous,” he said. Without the community practices, some patients would have to travel hundreds of miles to have a wound checked, a port flushed or blood drawn for lab tests.
The South Pasadena practice, called the South Pasadena Cancer Center, is the largest location. Combined, the five practices log about 36,000 patient visits each year.
Opened in 2009, the 24,000-square-foot South Pasadena Cancer Center offers cancer care ranging from diagnosis to follow-up.
“I believe that we truly are unique,” said Melinda Lane, director of practice management. “We are in the community, but we also are part of a major National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. We bring real expertise along with kindness and caring.”
The South Pasadena Cancer Center’s 22 physicians represent a variety of disciplines important to cancer care, including medical oncology, endocrinology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology and several surgical subspecialties.
The center uses electronic medical records, which eventually will be integrated with City of Hope’s system, and has full-time research staff and a licensed reference lab. Patients can receive chemotherapy and radiation therapy, undergo lab tests and receive diagnostic computed tomography at the facility.
The center’s infusion room features a private bedroom and 14 chairs, each with a flat-screen television monitor. Radiation therapists at the facility also use a Varian unit with Rapid ARC software, a sophisticated radiotherapy technology that precisely delivers radiation more quickly than other modern, dynamic treatments. The center offers small surgical procedures including cystoscopies, prostate biopsies, vasectomies and urodynamics, as well as more complicated surgeries.
Patients can receive a wide range of services from diagnosis to follow-up at the Antelope Valley, Santa Clarita, Glendale and Palm Springs community practices, as well. Each location offers physicians a chance to make a difference.
“The potential for our community practices is vast,” Trisal said. “There are no comprehensive cancer centers in this area delivering coordinated care for these patients, so our impact can be huge.”
She helps bring quality cancer care to the community
Melinda Lane wants to offer high-quality, big-city cancer care to patients — with a hometown spin.
|Melinda Lane (Photo by Luciana Starks)|
As director of practice management at City of Hope, she manages all of the community practice locations. The facilities offer a unique opportunity, she said: Patients benefit from easy parking, registration and locations near their homes — but they also have the advantage of their connection to the research and treatment resources of a comprehensive cancer center.
“It mimics a community practice. We work as though patients are seeing a private physician,” Lane said.
Lane started working with City of Hope in 1973, leaving during the 1980s to work in private practice. Today, she works with physicians to grow their practice in the community and make connections. “In a community practice, you rely on your relationships with the community for your referral base and your reputation,” said Lane.
“Our practice gives patients the feeling of the good old days: when doctors would make house calls with their black bags,” she said. “It’s something unique that patients respond to.”