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ChristianaCare's Cancer Program Wins Innovation Honors

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   October 17, 2022

The Delaware-based health system's Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute has received an award from the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) for a program that integrates cancer care with primary care.

ChristianaCare's cancer care program has earned national recognition for a unique program that integrates primary and cancer care.

The Delaware-based health system's Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute has won the Association of Community Cancer Centers' (ACCC) 2022 Innovator Award for the program, which builds on the institute's Oncology Express Unit, which offers urgent care services to cancer patients in need of emergency services during treatment.

It also addresses a gap in cancer care management spotted by the health system.

"We conducted an informal survey that found as many as 15% of our patients did not have their own primary care provider,” Cancer Program Clinical Director Cindy Waddington, MSN, RN, AOCN, said in a press release, which includes a link to a recent podcast on the program. “Having a primary care provider onsite working closely with the entire cancer care team helps ensure that essential patient care beyond cancer treatment is not delayed."

The health system pointed out that patients undergoing cancer treatment are often dealing with other health concerns, especially chronic issues like diabetes, heart problems, COPD, and high blood pressure, and that cancer treatment can exacerbate those issues. To facilitate comprehensive care, the program enables oncologists to refer their patients to primary care services for any non-cancer concerns.

"Primary care in oncology has been a long-standing challenge for cancer patients and cancer programs,” Family Nurse Practitioner Debra Delaney, RN, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-BC, who provides primary care services at the Graham Cancer Center, said in the press release. “Thankfully, we’ve been able to solve that challenge by addressing the whole person and promoting healthy living for the long-term.”

As part of the process, Delaney helps patients who finish their cancer treatments transition to a primary care provider for ongoing care management.

"Earning the prestigious ACCC Innovator Award for our primary care practice is an accomplishment that belongs to our entire cancer care team, which has worked long and hard to develop this unique program designed to improve our patients’ long-term health,” Nicholas Petrelli, MD, the Bank of America endowed medical director of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, said in the press release.

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Photo courtesy ChristianaCare

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