OSF St. Francis Establishes Tumor Board

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ESCANABA – Through a partnership with Green Bay Oncology, OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group has been providing complex cancer care in Delta County for 25 years and has announces the establishment of a tumor board.

With nearly 200 patients being seen each month at OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group – Oncology, the addition of a tumor board is a welcomed addition for OSF HealthCare, Green Bay Oncology providers, and the community.

The majority of patients with cancer are first diagnosed by their primary care providers. The initial evaluation, diagnoses and treatment decisions can be one of the most critical portions of a patient’s cancer journey and can substantially influence outcomes. A dedicated time reserved for discussion about patient care between all providers involved in cancer care is even more pertinent due to recent changes in cancer care.

“Our field is changing very rapidly. Patients have newly diagnosed cancers that are able to be cured with a much higher success rate than ever before. There are also patients who have cancers that we can’t cure, but we can often times now control for much, much longer than ever before,” said Dr. Brian Burnette, medical oncologist and hematologist with Green Bay Oncology and member of OSF St. Francis Hospital medical staff. “We can also maintain or even improve the patient’s quality of life with many of the new treatments for incurable cancers.”

Dr. Burnette explained that new treatment options are often accompanied by different side effect profiles that increase the necessity of multidisciplinary management for many patients. In addition, many patients are still seeing their primary care provider during cancer treatment for things like blood pressure, diabetes or weight management that remain integral to the patient’s ongoing medical care and ability to provide cancer care. The tumor board provides a dedicated time and place for these important discussions among providers.

The tumor board is comprised of physicians from various specialties involved in a patient’s care. The primary function of any tumor board is to provide the most up to date care, in the most expedient fashion for the patient. “When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, it is a dramatic change in their life. They want things done quickly, efficiently and cancer is a multidisciplinary disease. It requires surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, and radiologists,” explained Dr. William Bell, Chief of Surgery at OSF St. Francis Hospital.

Accreditation for continuing medical education through Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine was also established with the tumor board. Any physician or advanced practice provider that participates in the meeting has the opportunity to receive continuing education credits, but the educational benefits go beyond the credit. Providers learn invaluable information from each case that can be applied in future cases, benefiting multiple patients.

The tumor board meets on the second and the fourth Thursday of every month. Cases can be chosen by any of the care team members. “If a primary care physician would like their patient’s case presented and it’s not on the schedule, they can have the case submitted. We review at least three cases every other week,” said Dr. Bell.

The majority of patients with cancer or blood disorders in Delta County are treated at OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group – Oncology. Some of the patient’s primary care providers are part of other local health care organizations, but that does not exclude them from submitting cases to and engaging in the tumor board. The providers at Green Bay Oncology and OSF St. Francis are very excited to bring interested local providers in one room or on the phone. “We do not draw lines between the organizations – we’re all just there to discuss and improve cancer care in our community,” said Dr. Burnette.

OSF St. Francis Hospital is the third busiest in cancer care of the nine OSF HealthCare facilities that have cancer care programs. Across the country, it is rare for a 25-bed critical access hospital to have the volume of oncology patients that OSF St. Francis does or the need for a tumor board. Because of their partnership and commitment to the community, OSF HealthCare and Green Bay Oncology are fulfilling health care needs that are not always met in rural communities. “Patients don’t have to travel for hours and hours for care that they can get just as well, or better, close to home,” said Dr. Burnette.

OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group – Oncology serves patients Monday through Friday and is staffed with three Green Bay Oncology providers and ten chemotherapy-certified registered nurses. For more information about cancer care at OSF HealthCare, call (906) 233-4140.

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