A local Illinois-based provider, Iroquois Memorial Hospital, has inked a collaborative partnership with a national oncology network called Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). The deal introduces not only the prospect of more advanced oncology care to the predominantly rural-based residents of Iroquois County, Illinois, as well as neighboring counties to the east in Indiana, but also the clinical research as a care option—introducing advanced experimental cancer therapies administered in clinical trials to a local primarily rural-based population.
Who is Iroquois Memorial Hospital?
Also known herein as IMH, this provider was founded way back in 1913. It expanded over the years (with population growth) with extensive extensions in 1971 with a large three-story addition. By 1996, the first phase of IMH Specialty Clinic North Entrance was complete; by 2001, the second phase included a rooftop helipad, ambulance entrance and more, and the final phase included a new surgery center with four state-of-the-art surgical suites and two procedure rooms.
By 2015, the provider’s Resident Home was named one of America’s Best Nursing Homes by U.S. News & World Report. On the technology front, they have procured investments such as a 160 slice CT, Nuclear Medicine Camera, Digital Mammography, Ultrasound and MRI all accredited by the American College of Radiology. The provider has made moves into telemedicine with a Telestroke and TelelCU. By 2017 they rebranded with a new logo and expanded more services involves 3D Mammography, a 3rd generation 160 slice CT (involving less radiation) and offered affordable health screening to assist those with high health insurance deductibles to better coordinate care.
In addition to the main hospital, they run several regional health centers and clinics for the community. The provider generates about $70 million annually at a purported loss, according to one provider profile service.
Various groups are involved with U.S. hospital rankings, including U.S. News & World Report as well as various websites and for a more critical view certain plaintiff’s-bar law firms offer a vantage on various providers.
The provider operates in a predominantly rural part of Illinois’ Iroquois County—located in the northeast part of the state 60 miles south of Chicago area- with a population of about 30,000. Neighboring residents in Indiana’s Benton County (pop about 9,000) and Newton County (pop 14,300) also access the provider. Hence, the provider is probably serving a region with up to 50,000 potential patients. Traditionally rural, this region is over 90% Anglo/Germanic with the largest ethnicity that of the German-originated Americans that settled here to farm many years ago. The local median household income is just under $48,000. The median age of the county is 44.
The Economy and Poverty
Traditionally, rural and agricultural-based (with 1,500 farms in the county), the county’s largest employer sector includes health care and social assistance (2,170); manufacturing (1,634) and retail trade (1,388). The County’s poverty rate is 15.5%–higher than the nationwide poverty rate of 11.8%.
Patient-Centricity Movement—Bring the Advanced Care Closer
As noted by the local CTCA operation– senior vice president of operations, Jennifer Smith—the CTCA is just getting started to “reach more and more patients in rural and underserved communities.” She noted that CTCA has historically been a destination hospital for patients that don’t have access to cancer care or the cancer care in their hospital has been able to get them first- or second-line treatment, but then they run out of options. That has been CTCA’s model, but over the course of time, the burden of travel has been on the patients and its been the patient’s responsibility and the onus of getting to CTCA is on the patient, which is very difficult especially when they are already dealing with their cancer diagnosis and the side effects of treatment.”
Now, of course, with a growing array of partnerships such as the CTCA and IMH deal, “world class care” is brought into the community via the partnership and joint provision of care.
Clinical Trials as a Care Option Movement
This access to advanced therapies include experimental medicines that TrialSite News has written about repeatedly either extend or literally save lives. Hence, programs such as this offer expert cancer care to a rural community, such as this one in Illinois and neighboring Indiana, which supports patients and their families dealing with the implication of cancer diagnosis and care.
As TrialSite News has reported, CTCA brings advanced clinical research, such as experimental immuno-oncology drugs like Nektar’s NKTR-255, to cancer patients that may have no other recourse. CTCA’s clinical trials group currently lists 71 ongoing cancer trials across the country.
CTCA has inked partnerships with leading CROs, such as PPD, to accelerate study start up. Founded because the founder himself lost a love one to cancer, the company has dealt with its share of controversy often centered on marketing practices—which has known to occur with many growing companies with pressure for revenue growth.
Michelle Fairley, RN, CNO, IMH reports that Dr. Rodney Alford and Dr. Olatunji Akintilo are the facilitating providers for this joint IMH/CTCA program at IMH. For local residents, they will help “facilitate your care through Cancer Treatment Centers of America.”
With the two now partnered, local patients will first see their provider at IMH who in the context of cancer will coordinate with a CTCA provider to determine the optimal course of action—taking a holistic care team approach. This care team will determine the optimal approach for the local patient. If it is in fact to see CTCA directly a seamless transition will occur—e.g. medical records transfer and an introductory meeting with a designated oncologist and care team (e.g. nursing staff, counselors, etc.). Thereafter, the teams will seek the least disruptive manner to check in including the use of telemedicine and to the greatest extent possible CTCA-related care will be managed and delivered locally at IMH—making the patient’s life (and loved ones) as easy as possible given the circumstances.
The local news press reported that combined services listed on the brochures include a range of services involving oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, and hematologic oncology in addition to diagnostic evaluations concerning diagnostic procedures, imaging and laboratory testing; genetic and genomic testing (useful for new classes of precision therapies) as well as treatment options for infusion therapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and precision cancer treatment and integrative care not to mention the access to advanced clinical trials that heretofore wouldn’t be easily accessed in these rural communities. The IMH and CTCA deal afford IMH a Site Watch Leading ranking as they are proactively working to offer greater, more advanced care to the local population.