Focus on health equity in cancer care leads to national recognition

Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center received a three-year accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons.
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Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center has once again earned national recognition for its quality of care studies leading to enhanced patient care, its strong cancer screening and early detection initiatives and its exceptional support services.

The three-year accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons is one of the most respected and prestigious designations for cancer care. This accomplishment builds off Montefiore’s previous CoC accreditation and its recent U.S News & World Report ranking as one of the top 50 cancer centers in the country.

“One of our cancer center’s distinguishing characteristics is that we are redefining clinical care standards by studying and then tackling long-standing disparities and social factors that provide significant challenges to a person’s ability to thrive after being impacted by a cancer diagnosis,” said Edward Chu, director of Albert Einstein Cancer Center and vice president of cancer medicine at Montefiore Medicine, which is composed of Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

To earn voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program needed to meet or exceed 34 quality care standards, be evaluated every three years, and maintain levels of excellence in the quality of patient care, including prevention, education, research and survivorship.

“Every person who walks through our doors benefits from our team’s dedication to bringing game-changing therapies, novel diagnostic tests and state-of-the-art patient care to our community,” said Dr. Katia T. Papalezova, chair, cancer committee, director, Melanoma/Soft Tissues Program, surgical oncologist at Montefiore and assistant professor of surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The cancer center’s screening initiatives include a program for high-risk patients in which health educators and volunteers call those who miss their scheduled cancer screenings. These conversations uncover and address unmet social, transportation, or education needs. It has also created a registry to measure any care delays in “real time.”

These screening and monitoring efforts, coupled with research into why certain populations, such as Black and Hispanic patients with prostate, colorectal, lung and breast cancer face more aggressive cancers than their white counterparts, ensure care is provided to vulnerable populations. The incidence of colorectal cancer, for example, has significantly increased in Black and Hispanic members of the Bronx community who are younger than 50. Findings on this population have contributed to the national dialogue on cancer disparities and treatments.

The Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center will also soon be investigating the underlying genetic causes for the main tumor types that affect their patient population to gain a better understanding of these diseases, which may identify new approaches for prevention of early disease as well as treatment strategies for more advanced disease.

Approximately 80% of clinical trial participants at the cancer center are minorities, compared to a nationwide figure of only 8%.

Since 2007, the Cancer Center has evaluated preferences of more than 2,500 patients to ensure its integrative medicine programs, including individual counseling, support groups, spiritual support and mind-body therapies are culturally appropriate and part of its clinical trial designs.

“Our continued CoC accreditation reflects how we put research into action,” said  Dr. Shalom Kalnicki, associate director of Clinical Affairs, Albert Einstein Cancer Center, director, Oncology Service Line, Montefiore Medicine and professor and chair, Radiation Oncology. “I am humbled by the passion, teamwork, and patient-first attitude that is brought to every research study and care initiative. The Bronx community has contributed to increased knowledge and scientific advances on how to best tackle care disparities for people with cancer around the world. I especially want to thank Linda Fisher, our Director of Cancer Registry Program & Analytics, as without her and her team’s dedication and leadership, this achievement would not be possible.”

Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the CoC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving patient outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients. This is achieved through standard-setting, prevention, research, education, and monitoring of comprehensive, quality care. For more information, visit: www.facs.org/cancer.

For more information on Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center, visit http://www.montefiore.org/cancer or call 718-862-8840.

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