SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ketchikan General Hospital Cancer Program re-accredited


November 22, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Ketchikan General Hospital was surveyed by The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons through an on-site visit in September 2005. Surveyors reported that several record-keeping processes needed to be updated. That has been completed, and the official re-accreditation was received this month.

This achievement was made possible through a consistent commitment by the staff and administration to improve state of the art care for cancer patients at the community level. KGH utilizes the video teleconferencing capability of PeaceHealth to affiliate its program with St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham, Washington. St. Joseph oncology specialists and sub-specialists participate in diagnosis and treatment plans for Ketchikan cancer patients through regular tumor conferences.

Approved cancer programs are equipped and staffed to provide the best in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Recognizing that cancer is a complex group of diseases, the program promotes consultation among surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists. Also important in achieving accreditation are having nursing protocols in place as well as an array of supportive services such as home health care, social services, pastoral care, pain management teams, nutrition experts, educational opportunities, support groups, and access to screenings.

This multidisciplinary cooperation results in improved cancer care. "Not everyone can put this badge on their program," said Deborah Aaron, MD, surgeon and Chairperson of the KGH Cancer Committee. "This approval states that we provide state of the art care at KGH, in which our patients can have full confidence." Only two other programs in Alaska, located in Fairbanks and Anchorage, carry this Approved Cancer Program status. She stated that though there are still a few cancers not treatable here, much more cancer care can be completed locally in comparison to in years past.

New tool in cancer detection
A new modality this year in KGH's arsenal for cancer diagnosis is Computer Aided Detection (CAD) for early breast cancer detection.

CAD uses a specially programmed computer to provide a "second set of eyes" to the radiologist with every mammogram. Studies show that the use of CAD could result in earlier detection of up to 23.4 percent of the cancers currently detected using mammography. CAD was brought on line in January of this year, as the first component of the hospital's new Women's Diagnostic Imaging Suite, a joint project of the hospital and its Foundation.

Tumor registry
An integral part of a cancer program is the tumor registry. All patients who are diagnosed or treated for cancer are listed in the registry so that KGH can maintain contact with them and make sure that they receive continuing care and assistance. Information collected through the registry allows KGH to participate in national studies that are designed to improve patient care. These studies focus on diagnostic patterns, surgery, other treatment, and patient outcomes.

In turn, KGH has access to the national database for comparisons with our treatment methods and outcomes. This comparative assessment provides opportunities for continuous improvement in our quality of patient care.

The KGH Cancer Program, Affiliate Status, was first approved in 1999--the result of years of dedicated effort by KGH surgeon Phil Newman, MD (now retired) along with a host of others in all areas of cancer care.


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska