Source: The News-Enterprise
A board-eligible oncologist and hematologist has joined the ranks of the Hardin Memorial Health cancer care team.
In mid-September, Dr. Natalie Harper, M.D., Ph.D., began serving patients at the HMH Cancer Care Center in Elizabethtown. According to a news release from the organization, their cancer care team treated nearly 1,000 patients last year and local demand continues to grow.
A Kentucky native, Harper attended Transylvania University for her undergraduate studies before completing a Master of Science in physiology at the University of Louisville and a doctorate in pharmacology at the University of Kentucky. Pharmacology is a branch of medicine concerned with the uses and effects of drugs with a heavy emphasis on research.
While at UK, she also earned a medical degree and completed a combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics, followed by a fellowship in hematology and oncology. Harper also has authored several publications and delivered presentations around the country.
Harper, who in undergrad double majored in biology and philosophy, said her reason for pursuing oncology was two-fold.
“The science part of me fell in love with it when I was in undergrad and I was in cell biology,” she said.
Harper said she realized cancer cells are just a part of us that have gone wrong.
“That was the philosophy part of me – interested in the fact that it is a part of you that starts to become dysfunctional. … I thought it was really bizarre that a part of you could actually start to fight against you.”
With oncology, Harper said she also enjoys the continuity of care with patients.
“There is nothing that interests me from a science point of view as much and also from a personal patient relationship point of view,” she said.
The addition of Harper means the HMH Cancer Care team of physicians, advanced practice clinicians, certified oncology nurses and others is the largest and the strongest in its history, the HMH release said.
“Our goal is to ensure that Central Kentuckians receive the same high-quality cancer treatments at Hardin Memorial Health that they would at major metropolitan health care systems,” HMH Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Tom Carrico said in the release.”
HMH patients have access to clinical trials and cancer programs because HMH is a member of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Affiliate and Research Networks. The Markey Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center in Kentucky.
Harper also will provide care as part of the HMH Multidisciplinary Breast and Lung teams. HMH’s two multidisciplinary teams, include physicians representing a variety of specialties, working together to determine patient-specific treatment plans that minimize necessary visits while maximizing outcomes, the release said.
“HMH offers a full complement of cancer care services rarely seen in a community like Elizabethtown. The HMH cancer care team cares for patients like they are family. Those two things together equal outstanding patient care,” Harper said in the release. “I am so excited to work alongside such an amazing group of physicians, advanced practice clinicians and nurses.”
Harper is married with two children. She enjoys the outdoors and traveling.