Columns for The Lufkin News

A Truly Community-Wide Cancer Program

Posted Jun 11, 2017 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Every three months or so, I chair a meeting at CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial in Lufkin of the Cancer Committee. As an accredited cancer program through the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) since 1995, we have many different standards we have to meet dealing with quality of care and services provided. Our Cancer Committee – which is composed of the radiation, chemotherapy, and surgical doctors, radiologists, pathologists, and others (nursing, social work, etc.) involved in cancer care – is charged with maintaining a program that meets or exceeds the CoC standards.

There are around 1,300 CoC-accredited cancer programs in the U.S. This represents about 25% of hospitals. However, accredited facilities treat nearly 70 percent of recently diagnosed U.S. cancer patients annually. A multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment is a key defining feature of accredited programs. In other words, do your cancer physicians communicate with one another and work together on a plan of care for you. The patient is the center and focus of care.

The benefit to you as a cancer patient is knowing that you are receiving quality and comprehensive care, close to home, with a complete range of state-of-the-art services and equipment. A multidisciplinary team approach ensures you are offered current, national guideline-recommended treatment options, including access to clinical trials if desired. Prevention and early detection programs, cancer education and support services are available. Some of these services are in the Temple Cancer Center (radiation treatment) or the East Texas Hematology and Oncology Clinic (chemotherapy), but others may be in local surgeon’s offices or even in the hospital.

Actual diagnosis and treatment of cancer is just the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive cancer program. As I chaired our Cancer Committee meeting last week, I heard reports about all the great things we are doing out in the community related to cancer patients. Our community outreach coordinator, Tina Alexander-Sellers, presents cancer prevention and screening information to literally thousands of people each year at health fairs and industry and workplace events, educating our community on getting screening mammograms and Pap smears, smoking cessation, colorectal cancer screening, and even lung cancer screening for smokers at high risk for getting lung cancer.

We got an update from Sharon Shaw on the colorectal cancer screening efforts for under- and un-insured patients through the Angelina County & Cities Health District as part of a state grant in which we participate. Angie Whitley, our nurse over Women’s Special Services, detailed the number of low income women reached for mammograms and Pap smears through our state grant in her area.

Jay Gilchrist, our Vice President of Mission Integration, talked about CHI’s Community Needs Assessment and a new FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) branch office to be opened soon in North Lufkin, further expanding the healthcare options for our minority and underserved populations.

We discussed how we can meet a need we have in the community for more and better palliative care, which extends beyond just cancer patients and end-of-life care. Palliative care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of any serious illness, even while curative or aggressive treatment is being administered. It is a recognition that all patients and families want to maintain or improve quality of life even when dealing with a serious illness, not just when an illness is terminal.

The American Cancer Society representative, Daisy Drinkard, updated us on the impact the ACS is having by reaching patients through our oncologists at the East Texas Hematology and Oncology Clinic and at the Temple Cancer Center as well as through their strong work at the ACS office.

The Temple Cancer Center social worker, Apollonia Ellis, described how she is helping meet the needs of dozens of cancer patients already this year with navigation needs, be it transportation, lodging, or psychosocial and spiritual support. Our nurse practitioner, Kim Burnett, and oncology nurse, Madelene Collier, reviewed programs we recently developed dealing with genetic counseling and testing as well as cancer survivorship.

In addition, patients that are diagnosed and/or treated at CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial in Lufkin are tracked and followed by our Cancer Registry, which has entered more than sixteen thousand patients since 1990. Our certified tumor registrar, Ginger Strange, can analyze patient data over the years for type of cancer, stage, treatment given as well as results.

As you can see, a comprehensive cancer program is about so much more than “simply” treating cancer patients, as if that alone was simple! Quality, multidisciplinary care includes recognizing and providing solutions for the needs of cancer patients both in and out of the clinic. I am proud of our truly community-oriented cancer program at CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial in Lufkin. Kudos to all who are a part!

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Meet Our Team

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Radiation Oncologist

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Radiation Oncology Nurse

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Lead Radiation Therapist

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Radiation Therapist

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Radiation Therapist

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Dosimetrist

Linda Miller, MS

Linda Miller, MS

Medical Radiation Physicist

Evelyn Leach

Evelyn Leach

Receptionist