To earn this voluntary accreditation, a cancer program must meet 34 quality care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care.
As an accredited cancer center, Ascension Via Christi St. Francis takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, hospitalists, pathologists and other clinicians and caregivers with specialized training in oncology, including nurses, pharmacists, nurse navigators, physical therapists, dieticians, social workers and chaplains.
"It is a care model that has proven to result in continuous improvement in patient outcomes and satisfaction," says Claudio Ferraro, executive leader of Oncology Services at Ascension Via Christi. "We are one team with many contributors and community partners, all dedicated to ensuring that patients have access to safe, personalized and compassionate care."
Keisha Humphries, who directs the Oncology service line, is also proud of the team’s accomplishment, noting that Ascension Via Christi has maintained continuous accreditation since 2006.
"Being accredited is a reflection of the entire team’s commitment to ensuring that all the patients and families we serve have access to the cancer care they need," says Humphries. "For us, that means helping prevent or detect cancer at its earliest stage, providing access to the most promising treatments, participating in research that is helping to shape the future of cancer care and offering survivorship programs and support."
The accreditation program provides the framework for hospitals to improve their quality of patient care through various cancer-related programs that focus on the full spectrum of cancer care including prevention, early diagnosis, cancer staging, optimal treatment, rehabilitation, life-long follow-up for recurrent disease and end-of-life care.
When patients receive care at an accredited cancer care facility, they also have access to information on clinical trials and new treatments, genetic counseling and patient centered services including psycho-social support, a patient navigation process and a survivorship care plan that documents the care each patient receives and seeks to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.
Like all facilities accredited by the Commission on Cancer, Ascension Via Christi St. Francis maintains a cancer registry and contributes data to the National Cancer Data Base, a joint program of the Commission on Cancer and the American Cancer Society. This nationwide oncology outcomes database is the largest clinical disease registry in the world. Data on all types of cancer are tracked and analyzed through the NCDB and used to explore trends in cancer care. Accredited cancer centers, in turn, have access to information derived from this type of data analysis, which is used to create national, regional and state benchmark reports and support quality improvement efforts.