An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
By Robert Young | November 20, 2017
Jeffrey Wong Jeffrey Wong, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at City of Hope
City of Hope’s Duarte and Arcadia sites recently received four-year accreditation from ASTRO’s Accreditation Program of Excellence (APEx) — the first for a National Cancer Institute-recognized facility in California. It’s a distinction that recognizes the highest standards of quality and safety in radiation treatment and patient care.


The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) follows a rigorous and distinctive multistep process that takes up to a year to complete, based on a comprehensive review of 16 standards of excellence covering the radiation oncology team, overall patient care and safety, quality management and a compassionate, patient-centered approach.
“ASTRO is excited to recognize City of Hope for achieving APEx accreditation,” said ASTRO Chair Brian Kavanagh. “City of Hope has demonstrated a commitment to providing their patients with safe, high-quality radiation therapy services.”
The Department of Radiation Oncology volunteered to undergo the evaluation for a number of reasons, said Jeffrey Wong, M.D., chair of the department at City of Hope.
“First, we wanted to make sure our processes met the highest standards possible, and the APEx accreditation review gave us that opportunity,” Wong said. “It was a chance to review our quality assurance processes, receive constructive input and incorporate any improvements possible. We also thought it would be a way to validate our good work and differentiate ourselves from other cancer centers.”  

Raising the Bar

APEx reviews require a thorough self-assessment, along with a facility visit conducted by a wide-ranging team of experts that includes a medical physicist, radiation oncologist and therapist, a nurse, dosimetrist, nurse practitioner, physician assistant and practice administrator. It’s an exacting process that leaves no stone unturned.  
The ASTRO team was especially impressed with the Department of Radiation Oncology’s “time outs” performed before every patient treatment session, as well as its regularly scheduled safety rounds, when all the members of the oncology team meet to review each case and make sure the patient is getting the highest level of safety and care.
“We receive anywhere from 90 to 100 patients a day,” Wong said. “And we have time-out meetings before each treatment session. ASTRO mentioned that was one of the key things they considered in giving accreditation.”
Effective communication and a patient-centered approach to care are essential elements of the review process, he added. One of the Department of Radiation Oncology’s most remarkable features is the level of individual care and compassion provided by teams of experts from a wide range of disciplines. 

A History of Excellence

The APEx accreditation validates the Department of Radiation Oncology’s ongoing commitment to excellence, a tradition that dates back to the ‘50s and ’60s, when City of Hope pioneered the use of powerful cobalt-60 therapy devices, the first to treat many cancers located deep in the body.  
City of Hope was first in the U.S. to use magnetic resonance imaging-guided focused ultrasound to target prostate cancer with a high degree of precision. It was also among the first to use image-guided intensity modulated radiotherapy to deliver targeted bone marrow irradiation to our patients with advanced leukemia in need of a lifesaving bone marrow transplantation.
Now the latest breakthroughs in cancer medicine are saving lives at the Elsie & Robert Pierson Radiation Center at City of Hope's main campus in Duarte. The center offers leading-edge therapeutic and imaging technologies such as TomoTherapy and TrueBeam, which allow one machine to do the work previously done by several.  
“City of Hope has a long history of developing new cancer drugs and therapies in clinic and bringing them to our patients,” Wong said. “And we constantly strive to develop novel, powerful new ways to use the latest technology and equipment.” 


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