Quality Improvement Initiatives

This article was published in our Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Rebecca O'BerryBy Rebecca O’Berry, vice president of surgery and operations

In 2014 the Cancer Program has focused on improving our screening efforts for colorectal cancer, the one cancer that can be prevented. Our two quality improvement goals for 2014 were to improve the tracking process we use for hemoccult cards given to patients and to increase the number of people screened for colorectal cancer.

Historically, less than half of the hemoccult cards given to patients are returned to the physician’s office for testing. We implemented a follow-up plan to increase our return rate and modified the system we use to track these cards. Our efforts were successful, and we were encouraged to explore bringing in a different test that is easier for patients to perform at home. This new laboratory test will be part of our quality initiative for 2015.

Throughout the organization we worked to increase the number of patients who receive some kind of colorectal screening. In the target age group of 50-75, our screening numbers increased from 59 percent (in 2013) to 90 percent (in 2014). This is a significant improvement, and shows how effective a targeted educational effort on the benefits of some form of colorectal screening can be! Unfortunately a large number of our patients still refuse to undergo colorectal screening. In 2015 we will work to improve patient access to screening by increasing the variety of our testing methods.

In 2014 we also increased our social services support for patients undergoing cancer treatment. To ensure that everyone has the help they need while moving through treatment, our patients now have easy access to a social worker and our Blueprint team. We also created a binder to collect all the information needed by someone undergoing cancer treatment.

The MagView program implemented at the end of 2013 has helped our radiology department track screening mammography in a more systematic way. This program keeps all a patient’s information in one location, and allows a much faster turnaround time for notification of results. The time a patient must wait to receive a mammography result notification letter is now less than two days!

Our providers are excellent communicators and have put a lot of time and energy into community education about prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer. We work closely with our local senior centers to provide education sessions that are open to the public. Topics covered in these community outreach efforts include: skin cancer screenings and education (in several locations); discussions on breast cancer, bladder and prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. We will continue to provide this education in the upcoming year.

In 2014, 53 new cancer cases were identified, with breast cancer continuing to be the most prominent followed by lung, colon, and prostate. A total of 41 of those 53 cases were discussed at Tumor Board meetings.

2014 Gifford cancer statistics

Click here to read our full Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

The “Preventable Cancer:” Spreading the Word about Colorectal Screening

This article was published in our Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

preventing colon cancer

The providers in Gifford’s Cancer Program regularly visit senior centers, nursing homes, church meetings, and other community gatherings to offer skin cancer screenings, give free talks on cancer prevention and the importance of early detection, and host educational discussions of breast, bladder, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

In talks like “Everyone’s Got One: A Discussion of the Colon and How to Keep it Healthy,” surgeon Dr. Olveto Ciccarelli uses humor to help people learn about the importance of colorectal cancer prevention and screening.

“Everyone has these organs, but people are reluctant to talk about problems with their colon or their rectum,” said Ciccarelli. “Men especially find it difficult to discuss these matters, but this is one area where medical science has proven that cancer can be avoided, lives extended, and quality of life improved.”

This is especially true with colorectal cancer, which was a program focus for 2014. Colorectal cancer is called the only “preventable cancer” because it is the one cancer where regular screenings can help to keep cancer from forming. A colonoscopy detects any slow-growing polyps that may form in the colon so they can be removed before becoming cancerous. Because early colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, screening is even more important because it can detect existing cancer when treatment is most effective.

Still, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women in the United States. The good news is that deaths from colorectal cancer have decreased as more people take advantage of screening tests like colonoscopies, specialized X-rays, and tests that check for cancer in the stool.

So far, Gifford has had significant success with our efforts to increase colorectal screening rates for our target age group of 50-75 (an increase to 90 percent in 2014 from 59 percent in 2013).

We will continue to spread the word in our community. With colon cancer, it is simple: Regular screening could save your life.

Click here to read our full Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford Cancer Program Overview

Gifford's cancer program

This article was published in our Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford cancer committeeEstablished in 1959, Gifford’s Cancer Program is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

A dedicated cancer committee meets regularly to provide leadership for the program, including setting program goals and objectives, driving quality improvements and best outcomes for patients, and coordinating Gifford’s multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment.

Operating out of our relaxing Ambulatory Care Unit, Gifford’s Oncology Department includes:

  • Cancer care from an experienced oncologist
  • Specially certified oncology nurses
  • Planning options for cancer treatment following a diagnosis
  • Outpatient chemotherapy
  • Treatments for some hematology conditions

The medical center is home to advanced diagnostic technology, including stereotactic breast biopsies; a breast care coordinator providing education and outreach; a patient care navigator; many surgical offerings; data management and quality oversight; and cancer prevention programs, including a “Prevention into Practice” model that works with patients and their health care providers to bring screenings to the forefront.

Click here to read our full Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford Cancer Program Earns National Accreditation

Commission on Cancer logoRANDOLPH – The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons has granted accreditation with commendation to the cancer program at Gifford Medical Center through 2013.

A facility receives accreditation with commendation following an onsite evaluation by a physician surveyor during which the facility demonstrates a commendation level of compliance with one or more standards that represent the full scope of the cancer program (cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical services, research, community outreach, and quality improvement). In addition, a facility receives a compliance rating for all other standards.

Through its oncology department, Gifford in Randolph offers area patients access to an experienced oncologist, Dr. John Valentine; care from a specially certified oncology nurse; and treatment planning and options, including outpatient chemotherapy and hormone therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Cancer patients and their families additionally benefit from Gifford’s specialists and surgeons and the hospital’s robust palliative care program. Gifford also has a Cancer Committee, a patient care navigator program for women undergoing breast biopsies, and data management and quality oversight. It promotes cancer prevention, screenings, and treatment to the public through patient education and outreach efforts.

“We’re honored to be accredited once again by the Commission on Cancer,” Gifford Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry said. “This accreditation is a quality indicator for patients choosing cancer care, and an indicator that quality cancer care can be found close to home at Gifford.”

Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the Commission on Cancer 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 comprehensive, quality care. Its membership includes fellows of the American College of Surgeons and 49 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of cancer care.

Gifford’s program has been accredited by the Commission on Cancer since 1965.

The core functions of the Commission on Cancer include setting standards for quality, multidisciplinary cancer patient care; surveying facilities to evaluate compliance with the 36 Commission on Cancer standards; collecting standardized and quality data from accredited facilities; and using the data to develop effective educational interventions to improve cancer care outcomes at the national, state, and local level.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 1.6 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2012. There are currently more than 1,500 Commission on Cancer-accredited cancer programs in the United States and Puerto Rico, representing close to 30 percent of all hospitals. This 30 percent of hospitals diagnose and/or treat 80 percent of newly diagnosed cancer patients each year. In addition, a national network of more than 1,650 volunteer cancer liaison physicians, including internal medicine physician Jim Currie of Gifford, provides leadership and support for the Commission on Cancer Accreditation Program and other activities at local facilities.

The Accreditation Program, a component of the Commission on Cancer, sets quality-of-care standards for cancer programs and reviews the programs to ensure they conform to those standards. Accreditation is given only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to providing the highest level of quality cancer care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance. To maintain accreditation, facilities with Commission on Cancer accredited cancer programs must undergo an on-site review every three years.