Keeping care and treatment of cancer patients closer to home became an even larger reality Friday.
By Greg Thompson Source: The News-Enterprise
Hardin Memorial Health and the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center formally announced Friday morning that HMH is joining with Markey’s research network to an almost shoulder-to-shoulder gathering at HMH’s Cancer Care Center in Elizabethtown.
“We’re excited about our announcement today to build upon our relationship with the University of Kentucky and the Markey Cancer Center,” HMH President and CEO Dennis Johnson said.
Thanks to Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president for health affairs, the UK Medical Center has become one of the top academic medical centers in the United States, Johnson said.
“It only makes sense for us to partner with them,” he said. “It’s about relationships.”
The partnership between HMH and UK means more for cancer patients living in the hospital’s 10-county service area.
“This partnership means patients will no longer have to travel either to Lexington or out of the state to get clinical trials,” said Dr. Adam Lye, oncologist for HMH. “When you’re receiving care and treatment for cancer, 90 miles can sometimes feel like 900.”
Because of the partnership with the UK Markey Cancer Center, patients in HMH’s service area will have access to new cancer-treating drugs that are only available through trials designated by the National Cancer Institute. Patients also will have no need to travel large distances for testing while at the same time remaining under the direct care of their local physician.
Dr. Timothy Mullett of the UK Markey Cancer Center said for far too long, patients have had to travel long distances to get treatment.
“That’s uncomfortable for them,” he said.
The research network focuses on high-priority trials brought together by the National Clinical Trials Network, Mullett said.
“We have a directed focus to attack those problems that we have become known for,” he said.
Cancer treatments continue to advance and Lye said there are new treatments being approved by the FDA, including new classes of drugs being approved at a rapid pace, Lye said.
“Some patients with very rare cancers or cancers that need investigational drugs will be able to get that right here at home,” he said.
The advances give patients and their families much more hope as it allows for more aggressive treatment, Lye said.
Cancer has become the No. 1 killer of Americans between the ages of 40 to 80, and Kentucky leads the nation in the number of incidents and in deaths because of cancer with lung, breast and colon cancers being the top three, Lye said.
In 2015 alone, there were 26,490 new cancer cases in the state, he said.
According to national statistics, Lye said incidents of cancer will increase 45 percent over the next 15 years as the baby-boomer generation ages.
“Because people are getting older and as they get older, that is when they develop cancer,” Lye said.
Lye began treating cancer patients in 2013 in the designated cancer treatment area, which was in the basement of the hospital. Since that time, the share of local cancer patients receiving full treatment has grown from 20 to 50 percent.
“It’s like the direct opposite of the Field of Dreams,” Lye said. “They’re coming, so we had to build it.”
That led to HMH moving its cancer treatment from the basement of the hospital to the facility on Robinbrooke Boulevard.
“Last year, we had the opportunity to treat nearly 800 cancer patients and we worked very hard to keep those people close to home where they want to be for their treatment,” HMH oncologist Dr. Amy Braden, said. “We consider this relationship with the University of Kentucky part of that goal achievement.”