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Stoneham Cancer Center

    By bringing together the highly specialized resources of a Boston academic medical center with the convenience and personalized attention of a community cancer center, patients in Stoneham gained the ability to receive an unprecedented level of clinical collaboration to reach the best possible outcomes, right at home.  

    Todd and Elisa explain how it all came together, what it means for the community and to give advice to other teams working on Wellforce clinical projects.

    Q: A year ago, you were working to create Tufts Medical Center Cancer Center Stoneham. Why was this a priority for the organization, what were the benefits of this?

    MelroseWakefield Healthcare and Tufts Medical Center have had long standing relationships as it applies to the care of the complexities of the cancer patient, and this was a natural evolution to take the patient flow and experience to the next level. Providing more organized access, access to clinical trials and a linkage to an academic medical center was the right thing to do to keep care in the community. There were additional benefits to improve the cost of care being provided to the patients related to medications and access to oral oncolytics on site, with ease of delivery and supportive education related to therapy. 

    Q: What was your primary focus during the integration? 

    A: Our focus was to keep care accessible to the community and maintain the close, trusting relationships between physicians and patients. The promise of sustained relationships and personal connections, coupled with the advantage of having the resources of both an academic medical center and a community hospital provided patients a place they could rely on to fit all their needs during their cancer treatment, a time often filled with uncertainty and fear. With a higher level of care in the community, patients get treatment close to home, with the physician they know and respect. 

    Q: Employees from different Wellforce members were involved in the planning and execution. How did you work together since you were in different locations, representing different organizations and you really didn’t know each other?

    A: Tufts Medical Center was very forward thinking with this project, we were provided with two dedicated project managers, one of whom had a background in IT management which was key to our success. Tufts Medical Center also chose the best of the best in each department (Lab, Pharmacy, IT, Revenue Integrity, Nursing, Administration, HR, Marketing) to assist the team that was on site in Stoneham to learn and grow comfortable with the change in systems that were being implemented with the transition. Additionally, the leadership displayed by Dr. Erban, Dr. Sbardella, and Dr. Pennacchio played a major role in the successful integration. The teamwork was very natural, everyone had a common goal and despite the short time frame to go live, everyone was friendly, outgoing and we still have strong relationships with members of the Tufts Boston team almost one year later. 

    Q: Did you achieve your goal? 

    A: While integration of two large entities took hard work behind the scenes, patients saw nothing more than a change in signage and nametags. Patients received the same care from the same familiar faces, the physicians, nurses, and other team members who worked tirelessly to ensure a seamless transition.

    Q: What did you focus on for employees? 

    A: Laying the groundwork in the beginning stages, one of our priorities was to make team members at the Cancer Center feel they were truly a part of the Tufts MC family. From encouraging them to Always Think Ahead and anticipate thoughtfully, to joining appreciation and bonding events held by Tufts MC, employees were quick to feel included, strengthening the already solid relationships between both teams. 

    Q: What does this partnership offer the community?   

    A: The center provides the Stoneham community with a concrete example of collegial collaborations and the ability to have academic consults and treatment in Stoneham, with the Boston campus providing tertiary support for the most critical cases, such as bone marrow transplants-- with the physicians at each location working closely to ensure that the patient has a seamless transition between the two.  With a strong hematology/oncology clinic, an onsite lab, and a specialty pharmacy for oncolytics on site, the Cancer Center has achieved the goal of keeping the highest possible level of care in the community. 

    Q: What do you see for the future? 


    A: We see unlimited opportunity for growth. The center is always identifying and sharing synergies and best practices. The Stoneham Cancer Center truly understands what patients need. With the expertise provided by Stoneham Cancer Center physicians such as Dr. Pennacchio, who has displayed critical leadership throughout the transition, Dr. Fu, a recent fellowship graduate of Tufts MC with a growing patient volume, Dr. Bolla, her mentor in community oncology practice, and all their other incredible colleagues both in Stoneham and Boston, the team is well equipped to provide cutting-edge care for cancer patients at the community level. From access to clinical trials to an increase in specialty clinics in disciplines such as colorectal and thoracic cancers, the Tufts Medical Center Cancer Center in Stoneham has plans to ensure that they remain dedicated to providing patients with everything they could ever need, close to home, for years to come. 

    Q: Employees from throughout Wellforce are working on projects together now to improve care, add services, and innovate. What advice would you give those teams based on your experience in Stoneham?

    A: Respect of all experience at the table is of greatest importance. Go into the project with an understanding that each team member involved brings to the table best practices to improve overall patient care. You all share the same goal, so focus on enhancing the patient experience and have fun while meeting and working with new people. It helps to have a dedicated project manager and a team member who can provide resources from a desktop and network perspective, as well. 
 

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