Providing higher-level medical and surgical care in the Central San Joaquin Valley poses a challenge to the providers.
Alongside stunning national parks, wilderness and its farming products, the Valley is a medical heaven for observant providers seeking a challenge.
The vibrant ethnic diversity of generations, multiplicity of migrant populations with their distinctive genetic susceptibilities and environmental exposures manifest as a potpourri of phenotypes and pathologies.
Each year more than 10,000 residents of the Valley are diagnosed with invasive cancer, resulting in approximately 4,000 cancer-related deaths per year. Due to the rapid growth of the population in the Valley, these numbers will increase in the future.
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Cancer is not a single disease. It represents a collection of hundreds of processes, commonly characterized by uncontrolled cellular growth and proliferation. Cancer treatments have been constantly changing and improving.
The trifecta of population diversity, complexity of diseases and constantly improving treatments present a distinctive challenge for cancer doctors. Nowadays, the prior dogma of one doctor calling all of the shots is fading and the cancer world is moving toward personalized treatments as a consensus statement from a professional board.
A panel of experts, including surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists, diagnostic and interventional radiologists, subspecialists such as gastroenterologists, geneticists, and the palliative care team should perform a comprehensive, in-depth review of each and every patient to determine the best treatment strategy and its sequencing.
This model will also provide supportive care from navigators and social workers to ensure timely implementation of the plan to achieve the optimal result.
This is the multidisciplinary care model and it is considered the optimal model of cancer care.
Community Medical Centers serves a population of over 2.5 million people. At Community Regional Medical Center, the complex cancer expert roundtable meets weekly.
An ensemble of 20 professionals from different branches of health care voice their expertise to determine the optimal treatment for each cancer patient. The support staffs ensure the implementation of the personalized strategy in an expedited fashion.
Patients from different counties of the Valley are presented and their referring doctors are always encouraged to participate. This is the model of care that we are proposing for the Valley.
A significant number of San Joaquin Valley patients are reluctantly leaving the area to seek different levels of medical care. As we all realized, it is cumbersome and imposes redundant financial as well as unwanted emotional burdens on the patients and their families.
There is a substantial need in the Valley for medical professionals to share their expertise to provide the best care, surpassing national and international standards for their patients.
This collaboration should grow beyond the boundaries of health-system corporations and hospital borders. The multidisciplinary care model is a great example that can gather all professionals of the Valley under a unifying umbrella for the best care of our patients.
Amir H. Fathi, M.D., is assistant clinical professor of surgery and director, hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery for the University of California, San Francisco, Fresno. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org