Groups form local front against disease
Executives from the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center and Bakersfield Memorial and Mercy hospitals announced Monday that they plan to enter a partnership for cancer care that will include a new inpatient unit at Mercy's downtown location and the development of a pediatric oncology program.
The announcement comes less than a week before The AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital opens its doors to the public. Executives from CBCC and Memorial and Mercy hospitals were quick to say that their pending partnership was about improving patient care, not competition.
"We really welcome competition because you know whenever there's competition actually the patients benefit, and that's what we want," said Dr. Ravi Patel, CBCC's managing partner and medical director.
However, Patel added that "it's going to take a long time for (the) competition to catch up with us."
Competitor San Joaquin Community Hospital Vice President Jarrod McNaughton said the news was no surprise.
"There had been rumors for quite some time in the community about that," McNaughton said.
The partnership was announced before the legal paperwork was completed to put the rumors to rest, said Jon Van Boening, CEO and president of Memorial Hospital. The arrangement has been in the works for 18 months and the documents should be completed in the next several weeks, he said.
"This is a true partnership. This is just not words, this is just not pictures on a banner. We're really coming together as businesses," Van Boening said in his remarks at a news conference at CBCC Monday morning.
Health organizations aim for better cancer care in Bakersfield
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Bakersfield's Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center and San Francisco-based Dignity Health are teaming to provide a higher level of cancer care in Kern County.
The organizations announced a partnership Monday, saying their agreement will open new treatments to patients at both CBCC and Dignity Health, which operates Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield and Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.
The Florence R. Wheeler Cancer Center, a radiation oncology center that opened in 1992, is already affiliated with Mercy Hospitals. CBCC has treated more than 75,000 patients and has been recognized as the largest free-standing, privately held cancer center in the nation.
Monday, Dignity Health also announced plans for:
- Kern County's first dedicated inpatient cancer care unit at Mercy Hospital Downtown, to be completed early next year
- room in Mercy's downtown emergency department to address the special needs of cancer patients
- Kern County's first pediatric oncology program, based on Memorial Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit
- integrated breast cancer and prostrate cancer programs, with details coming soon
New non-profit outlines plan to help local cancer patients
We first reported Wednesday night, large donors to Bakersfield's Relay for Life are now shifting the majority of their support to a new Kern County Cancer Fund.
Thursday afternoon, creators of that non-profit made their plans public at a news conference.
Long-time Kern County cancer fundraiser Leslie Knox and Fight for Life organizers announced they will donate all of the money raised at this year's event next month, to a new Kern County Cancer Fund instead of the American Cancer Society.
And, Dr. Ravi Patel says the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center will match the money raised up to a million dollars and scale back their donation to the Relay for Life.
CBCC found of the nearly $3 million raised at Bakersfield's Relay for Life and other charity events in 2011, less than $73,000 came back to help fund services for cancer patients in Kern County.
New cancer fund aims to keep local donations local
A new fund for local cancer patients is starting amid concerns that not enough of the money raised here for the American Cancer Society comes back to Kern County.
The Kern County Cancer Fund will help patients in need with everything from insurance costs to making ends meet, organizers said. Robin Mangarin-Scott, who has been a part of the fund's planning process, said it will help local families survive the financial toll of cancer.
Leslie Knox with Advanced Industrial Services plans to jump-start a community cancer fund. Advanced Industrial Services has recently given the largest gift in SJCH history for its cancer center.
After nearly two decades of promoting Relay for Life and other events that benefit the American Cancer Society, Mangarin-Scott said she was surprised to learn how little of that money returns to Kern County.
"We needed to do something to make sure that the patients are taken care of here at home," she said. "I'm not so sure that a lot of people realized just how much money (raised for the American Cancer Society)...went to the national organization for programs and research."
Bakersfield Relay for Life raised more than $2 million for the American Cancer Society this year. Exactly how much money typically comes back from Relay -- and how one would even calculate that -- is unclear.