The University of Cincinnati is investing heavily in expanding cancer care, hoping to become the go-to provider for patients in the Cincinnati metropolitan region, UC officials said.
The school and its health system have committed $65 million to expanded cancer care, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported (http://cin.ci/1324p54).
Most of the money has been for recruiting doctors and setting up clinical programs. UC officials explain that the goal is to provide care locally for patients who have been going to centers around the country for complex treatments.
"First-level cancer care is done pretty well in Cincinnati," said Tom Boat, dean of the College of Medicine. "For different kinds of cancers, such as early ovarian cancer, people in Cincinnati by and large are leaving the city."
Providing treatment options close to home could benefit many patients in the region by saving them travel expenses and time.
"It's just a wonderful blessing to be 20 minutes away," said Kathleen Zavatsky of the Cincinnati area. "You see the doctor a lot when you have cancer."
UC and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have said in the past they want to work together to gain designation from the National Cancer Institute, which could open up millions of federal dollars of potential research funding. They say they need to make more investments before formally applying.
"The cancer center has to be a priority moving forward," said Santa Ono, who was named Cincinnati's president last year.
UC's cancer institute has a significant presence on the UC campus and in its suburban West Chester Hospital, and plans to expand next year into Florence, Ky.
Dr. George Atweh, who joined UC in 2009, said the investments had been overdue for the university. He said the program is only about halfway to a goal of comprehensive disease-based programs that can provide a full range of services
Finding new patients for clinical trials will drive growth, Atweh said.
"We have tremendous resources to bring to this," he said. "But it takes time to establish a track record."