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Earlier this year we proudly welcomed the Duke Cancer Network to our community. Many of our lives are touched by cancer, and about 1.7 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2018. If you, or anyone you care for, needs treatment for cancer, it should come as encouraging news to have the Duke Cancer Network so close to home.
Wilson Medical Center became a Duke LifePoint hospital four years ago and we have seen substantial benefits from ties to Duke Health, including input and expertise from their quality programs and initiatives. By adding a new collaboration with the Duke Cancer Network, we are able to bring even more of a clinical focus from Duke to our community.
Our cancer program in Wilson has transformed over the past 12 years from a group of individual physician practices to a cohesive community cancer program. We have been accredited by the Commission on Cancer since 2007. This is a program of the American College of Surgeons, which recognizes cancer care programs for their commitment to providing high-quality care from a team of physicians who work together to care for all aspects of a patient’s treatment.
In addition to this important accreditation, several hospital departments are also accredited by their respective organizations including the American College of Radiation Oncology, the American College of Radiology and the College of American Pathologists. Each one of these accreditations requires a tremendous amount of work by dedicated team members including physicians, nurses, staff members, therapists and administrators. Attention to detail and continued self-reflection to make improvements in our practices are essential to maintaining our standards. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve for our patients.
Building on this strong foundation, we are excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Duke Cancer Network. Already this year, our program has prospered with their input in the guidance of the Cancer Care Committee. Specifically, we have reviewed and updated policies and undertaken studies to explore opportunities for improvement. Our nurse navigation program is undergoing changes to improve access for patients in our community. We have initiated a study to assess the literacy rate of health terminology among our patients with the goal of improved communication. We have also reviewed and updated policies and patient education materials for prescribing opioids. All of this has been done with input from the team at the Duke Cancer Network.
As physicians, we have benefited from ease of access to electronic charts for shared patients in the Duke Medicine system. Availability of regular peer-to-peer communication has been established in the Departments of Pathology and Radiation Oncology. In addition, the staff at our hospital has access to numerous educational opportunities and professional development opportunities through the Duke Cancer Network.
Given these benefits of a shared collaboration, we are excited by the opportunities available to the medical community and the cancer community in Wilson. Facing cancer is a daunting task and is best addressed with a strong team. Here at Wilson Medical Center, we are fortunate to have the Duke Cancer Network walking beside us on this journey with our patients.
Peggy Metts, M.D., is a board-certified radiation oncologist and the medical director of Wilson Radiation Oncology.