Reflecting a commitment to providing streamlined access to the best care available, Mercy Health now offers a multidisciplinary clinic dedicated to treating breast cancer at the state-of-the-art Mercy Health – Perrysburg Cancer Center.
Designated the Mercy Health – Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care Center, the clinic provides all the services and clinical expertise breast cancer patients need for optimal outcomes in one convenient location.
Amanda Zahn, MD, Medical Director of the Mercy Health – Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care Center, explains that effective breast cancer treatment demands the integrated efforts of numerous healthcare professionals, including a surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and a host of other caregivers. “Having access to all these clinicians under one roof is a tremendous benefit to patients and their families, who would otherwise have to travel to several different locations to see the necessary specialists. From the doctor’s standpoint, this is a very efficient approach to care. Designing a treatment plan is a highly dynamic process, and having everyone in the same location allows for immediate feedback between providers as well as between the care team and patients,” she says.
Melissa Rinker, CTR, Manager of Oncology Ancillary Services for Mercy Health, adds, “Patients who don’t go through our clinic will still need to see all these providers, and going to three different locations can be a tremendous burden when you factor in work demands, babysitting schedules, and, for many elderly patients, the need for help with transportation.”
In addition to the expertise of a surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist, the multidisciplinary team at the Mercy Health – Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care Center provides physical therapy; specialized lymphedema care; genetic counseling to discuss appropriate testing and the ramifications of the disease for the patient and his or her family; pastoral care; social work; nutritional counseling; financial counseling; oncology outreach to connect patients with support groups, programs, and other vital resources; and many other services and ancillary staff.
“We’ve also integrated a plastic surgeon into our core group. It’s very important for patients to understand what the final outcome of surgery will look like and what their options are in that regard. In fact, the overall cosmesis following surgery—or how the patient’s breast will look when all is said and done—is just as important to us as curing the cancer. That’s why the term ‘comprehensive’ is such an accurate description of our program,” states Dr. Zahn.
As further evidence of the clinic’s integrated approach, each day at the Mercy Health – Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care Center begins with a multidisciplinary teleconference, linking multiple Mercy Health sites and providers, including a radiologist and pathologist, for the purpose of discussing patients’ cases and treatment plans. Primary care providers are also encouraged to participate in order to share their clinical knowledge. Furthermore, patients’ eligibility to participate in breast cancer clinical studies can be determined during these teleconference sessions.
But beyond providing convenient access to multiple providers under one roof, the Mercy Health – Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care Center is making a difference in patient outcomes—most notably with respect to the timeliness of care delivery. Rinker explains, “A common quality metric that breast cancer centers use is the time that elapses between diagnosis and the initiation of treatment. We’re now beginning treatment within weeks of diagnosis versus months. Even if this doesn’t change the outcome, it’s a huge comfort to patients. The time from diagnosis to treatment is an extremely anxious period for patients, so the sooner you start, the better they feel.”
It’s also noteworthy that the Mercy Health – Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care Center is accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). NAPBC accreditation is granted only to those centers that have voluntarily committed to provide the highest quality care to patients with diseases of the breast. Each center must undergo a rigorous evaluation and review of its performance and compliance with the NAPBC standards. “We’re extremely proud of this achievement,” states Dr. Zahn. “This accreditation is just one more reflection of our goal to deliver the highest quality breast cancer care using the latest, cutting-edge therapies in a timely fashion.”❦