Alfond Foundation $10M grant will help launch Cancer Care Network

Jun 19, 2017

Cancer patients in Maine now have access to world-class, coordinated cancer treatment, thanks to an innovative collaboration between MaineHealth members and its affiliate hospitals.

The MaineHealth Cancer Care Network, which will deliver comprehensive, patient-centered care and is being launched in part with a $10 million grant from The Harold Alfond® Foundation, is also affiliating with Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Diagnosing cancer and treating patients with the disease requires a team of experts. Most cancer patients receive a combination of therapies that can include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These treatments are best performed by specialists, including those with the highest level of training in their field.

Not every hospital or private practice has the expertise or technology to deliver all types of care, but by working together, the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network can provide comprehensive cancer treatment services to everyone in our communities.

For patients and their families, this means less time and travel to obtain top cancer care. Most patients will have access to a patient navigator who educates them about the disease, discusses treatment options, and then helps coordinate appointments.

“Our network includes nearly 300 physicians plus advanced practice providers, nurses and administrative staff across Maine and the Mount Washington Valley,” said Scot C. Remick, M.D., chief of oncology for Maine Medical Center and MaineHealth.

“Coordinated, comprehensive care represents best practice in cancer treatment and typically delivers the best clinical and experience outcomes," he said. "The (grant will facilitate) personalized, state-of-the-art care that turns more patients into survivors.”

Cancer is a serious public health challenge in Maine, where incidence and mortality rates outpace national averages. Statewide, the most common cancer diagnoses are breast, lung, colon and prostate. Cancers that account for the highest portion of deaths in Maine are lung, colon, breast and pancreas. Maine’s population health trends, including age, obesity and smoking rates, are all significant factors.

The grant will also support MaineHealth’s continuing efforts in prevention and education.

Mark Fourre, MD, president & CEO of Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital, said the partnership "will allow us to build upon an already strong foundation (of cancer care), making advanced, coordinated care easier for our patients to access, while maintaining continuity of care with our specialized local cancer care teams.”

Betsy Connelly, DO, medical director of oncology and infusion therapy for Pen Bay and WCGH, added that "access to clinical trials provides our patients with expanded care options that would otherwise be unavailable.”

When patients access the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network for care, they will access the services they need as close to home as possible. Patients can be referred to larger centers for more advanced care, second opinions or clinical trials, and then return to their local communities for follow-up care. The network’s commitment is to coordinate the patient’s journey, accessing the most appropriate services for care.

Coordinated care models produce positive outcomes for patients. According to the Maine Cancer Foundation, given the gravity and complexity of cancer diagnoses in Maine, reducing the cancer burden cannot be achieved if organizations worked in silos.

The Harold Alfond Foundation grant will be distributed over a five-year period and will cover some of the network’s start-up costs, such as technology investments and hiring additional providers, patient navigators and program managers.

Through the network’s affiliation with Dana-Faber Cancer Institute — designated by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center and widely recognized as one of the world’s leading treatment and research centers — patients will have expedited access to Dana-Farber for evaluation and treatment of rare cancers, second opinions and an expanded array of clinical trials.

Learn more about the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network at MaineHealth.org/cancer.

About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

One of the world’s leading centers of cancer research and treatment, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston is the only center ranked in the top four of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals for both adult and pediatric cancer care.

Dana-Farber sits at the center of a wide range of collaborative efforts to reduce the burden of cancer through scientific inquiry, clinical care, education, community engagement, and advocacy.

Dana-Farber is dedicated to a 50/50 balance between cancer research and care, and much of the Institute’s work is dedicated to translating the results of its discovery into new treatments for patients locally and around the world.

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