Mission Hospital, UNC Health Care forge agreement for cancer care, research

Mission Hospital and UNC Health Care announced Aug. 19 that they have signed an affiliation agreement for cancer care and research, with the overall goal of enhancing the quality of care for cancer patients in western North Carolina, including providing access to new therapies and innovative research programs under development at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the N.C. Cancer Hospital.

Both partners say that the affiliation is intended to be a long-term agreement, designed to adapt over time to the needs of the patient population in the areas that Mission serves. Initial programs under the agreement include improving community screening for earlier diagnosis and prevention of lung cancer through the efforts of oncology nurse navigators, participation in UNC’s statewide cancer telemedicine network, and offering access to research projects and new treatments developed at UNC Lineberger.

“We are very excited about what this expanded relationship with UNC Lineberger means to the patients and physicians of western North Carolina,” said Joseph F. Damore, President & CEO of Mission Health System and Mission Hospital.

“Cancer afflicts people of all ages, and we want to provide them with care that incorporates cutting edge research close to home. Our relationship with UNC Lineberger allows us to do that,” said Dale Fell, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Mission Hospital.

“This affiliation will enhance our ability to carry out the mandate we have received from the NC General Assembly under the University Cancer Research Fund, particularly in disseminating new knowledge and improving cancer care, screening, and prevention across the state,” said Bill Roper, MD, MPH, dean of the UNC School of Medicine.

Under the agreement, oncology nurse navigators will work to assess communities’ needs for screening and prevention of lung cancer, an important priority in a region where more adults use tobacco.

Through UNC’s newly-enhanced telemedicine capabilities, doctors in Mission’s facilities will be able to collaborate in real-time conferences with UNC in ways that focus on creating individualized treatment plans for patients – no matter where they are initially seen.

Finally, patients at Mission’s facilities will have access to research trials that will provide new treatments developed at UNC Lineberger without having to travel to Chapel Hill.

“Partnering with an exceptional organization like Mission is not only good for both institutions but will be good for patients and their families- it's a superb opportunity for North Carolina,” said Shelley Earp, MD, director of UNC Lineberger.

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