1,193 new cancer patients receive accredited care

PINEHURST — During calendar year 2013, 1,193 new cases of cancer were diagnosed at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.

Of those new cancer patients, 145 of them, or 12.1 percent, listed a Richmond County home address.

Lung cancer accounted for most of the diagnoses followed by cancers of the breast, prostate, colon and bladder, and lymphoma – statistics that are very much in keeping with those of the rest of the country.

logoWhen these hundreds of patients were treated at Moore Regional’s FirstHealth Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center, they received cancer care that had been accredited, with commendation, by the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS).

Following an on-site survey earlier this year, the program recently received its seventh consecutive accreditation. It has been continuously accredited since 1995.

CoC accreditation assures patients that FirstHealth’s cancer program has complied with standards that represent the full scope of cancer care: committee leadership, data management, clinical services, research, community outreach and quality improvement. The FirstHealth program met all 27 of these standards as well as another seven criteria that indicate a special commendation level of care.

“Patients who come here for their care can have confidence that they are getting care that is up to date and consistent with national standards while getting that treatment close to home,” says Ellen Willard, M.D., a board certified hematologist and oncologist and medical director of the FirstHealth Outpatient Cancer Center. “That reduces the stress on them and their caregivers.”

“Our cancer program strives to provide high-quality care to our community with the latest technology,” says Dan R. Barnes, D.O., president of the FirstHealth Physician Group. “Receiving full accreditation status with commendation helps validate our commitment to our patients.”

Established by ACoS in 1922, the CoC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education and the monitoring of care. Its membership includes Fellows of the American College of Surgeons and 42 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of cancer care.

“Participating in an outside review of our cancer program validates that the management of our cancer patients is up to date and meets, and often exceeds, national standards of excellence, assuring our patients that they are receiving state-of-the-art treatment that is close to home,” says Jeffrey Acker, M.D., a radiation oncologist and medical director of the Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center. “A successful survey is a tribute to the hard work and attention to detail of many individuals and teams involved in managing the cancer patients treated here at FirstHealth Moore Regional.”

That means patients have access to:

  • Care that includes a range of state-of-the-art services and equipment
  • A multi-specialty team approach to coordinate the best treatment options
  • Information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options
  • Access to cancer-related information, education and support
  • Ongoing monitoring and improvement of caregivers
  • Quality care close to home
  • A cancer registry that collects data on type and stage of cancers and treatment results and offers lifelong patient follow-up

Supervision of Moore Regional’s Cancer Registry falls to Leta Vess, who oversees a staff of four certified tumor registrars who use a variety of methods to maintain patient contact and assure the lifelong follow-up that a CoC-accredited cancer program provides. A database that was started in 1990 currently includes more than 26,000 names of patients who have been diagnosed with and/or treated for cancer at the hospital.


“Accreditation with commendation means that FirstHealth is voluntarily committed to meeting the standards that confirm we have the best cancer care possible,” says Vess. “Patients can be assured the our program covers everything that needs to be available for cancer care.”

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