City of Hope Radiation Oncology

Prestigious Radiation Accreditation Now Includes Corona and Upland

Four years ago, City of Hope in Duarte and Arcadia became the first National Cancer Institute-recognized facilities in California to achieve accreditation from the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s (ASTRO) Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx) — the highest recognition that can be awarded for safety and quality in the field of radiation.
 
Both sites have just been reaccredited — and for the very first time, the Corona and Upland community locations have also received APEx accreditation.
 
“It’s a real feather in the cap,” said Janet Reszitnyk, MSc, RT(T), CMD, CRA, manager of the Department of Radiation Oncology at City of Hope. “It’s quite a rigorous process that takes about a year to complete.”
 
To receive accreditation, 16 strict quality and safety standards must be met. These include everything that happens from the moment a patient walks through the door for a consultation, through treatment, to follow up after treatment is completed.
 
These standards apply to the facilities, the equipment and every discipline involved in providing radiation services — physicians, therapists, technicians and nurses, as well as experts that patients may be less familiar with: dosimetrists and medical physicists.
 
After the patient has a CT scan, the physician contours the areas to be treated and decides what should be achieved with treatment. That’s when the dosimetrist’s skill comes into play. They use sophisticated software to create a patient-specific treatment plan to target the tumor while avoiding critical organs and healthy tissue.
 
The medical physicist oversees the plan creation and performs weekly chart checks of each patient’s treatment. They also regularly inspect the radiation equipment, ensuring that it complies with the protocols of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine — the gold standard in radiation quality control.  
 
Another APEx requirement is a peer review process for each professional discipline providing patient care. At these panels, colleagues are able to take advantage of the wider range of their collective knowledge to discuss each patient and provide input.
 
Once all APEx standards are met, there’s one last step in the process.
 
“We also have to make sure that all policies and procedures are uniform at all four accredited sites,” said Reszitnyk. “So you can be sure that whichever site you go to for radiation, you are getting the same excellent treatment.”
 
City of Hope also does its own quarterly safety assessment of all disciplines to proactively identify and correct any potential safety risks that might arise.
 
Every four years facilities must undergo reaccreditation, and at that time APEx allows more sites to be added. Several other City of Hope radiation facilities are already preparing their applications.
 
“It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to provide this level of excellence, not just at the main campus but at our community sites as well,” said Reszitnyk.

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