San Joaquin Community Hospital has a big new partner in its cancer center endeavours: the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The hospital went public with the partnership between The AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital and the university-based cancer center on Friday.
The affiliation means the new AIS Cancer Center will have access to clinical trials and resources at UC Davis. Doctors will participate in virtual tumor boards with partners from across the UC Davis Cancer Care Network via video conferencing to mull over patients' cases.
Dr. Oscar Streeter, medical director for The AIS Cancer Center at SJCH, said doctors will be able to get second opinions and collaborate with other physicians throughout the network.
"That's a big win for us and therefore a big win for the patients," he said.
Administrators said the arrangement isn't just for show. Rather, they said, resources will be shared for the benefit of patients and doctors.
"We provide professional education, we provide access to our experts," said Dr. Scott Christensen, medical director of the UC Davis Cancer Care Network.
"This is a meaningful partnership. It's not just about marketing. It's not just about being able to put somebody's logo on a website."
San Joaquin Community Hospital Vice President Jarrod McNaughton said San Joaquin has envisioned partnering with an academic center since the idea of a cancer center began brewing. But the hospital wanted a practical partnership that was more than a name, one that offered second opinions and education for the cancer center's staff.
"We considered a host of different organizations here in California and throughout the United States," McNaughton said.
UC Davis was attractive because it already had the UC Davis Cancer Care Network up and running, Streeter said. UC Davis also carries the esteem of being designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.
"UC Davis was literally one of the few that had almost a toolbox approach where it was ready to go," McNaughton said.
There is an annual fee associated with the affiliation but McNaughton said the price is not exorbitant compared to the services San Joaquin's doctors and patients will receive.
"It's not cheap, let's just say that," Streeter said. "The value is worth more than what we're paying."
The partners said referrals won't be a large part of their relationship. Rather, the partnership should enable more people to stay in Bakersfield for their cancer care because San Joaquin's staff will be able to tap into UC Davis' resources, they said.
"Our real intent is to help develop capabilities and strategies in the local area," Christensen said.
The doctor said one day, that might include the creation of a pediatric oncology program.
Dr. Ralph deVere-White, director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Care Center, said the partnership is mutually beneficial and helps UC Davis share its knowledge to improve cancer care beyond its own walls.
The AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital will be the fourth and farthest affiliate of the UC Davis Cancer Care Network, following the Rideout Cancer Center in Marysville, the Mercy Cancer Center in Merced and the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in Truckee.
"Our intent as we continue to grow is to choose strategic parents throughout the Central Valley," Christensen said.
DeVere-White said UC Davis wasn't looking to go to Bakersfield "per se," but UC Davis was impressed by the setup at San Joaquin's cancer center.
"We perceived them to be extremely committed in providing the best in cancer care," Christensen said. "We're just excited to hit the ground running and move forward with where this place is going to go."