PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. – On Wednesday, Sept. 15 CalvertHealth announced it is enhancing its community cancer program through a new cancer affiliation with Duke Health. “This affiliation offers our patients access to cancer research, treatment advances and clinical trials only available at the best cancer hospitals in the country,” said CalvertHealth Cancer Program Director Dr. Theodore Tsangaris. “This is an exciting chapter in cancer care at CalvertHealth,” said Dr. Tsangaris. “The affiliation with Duke Cancer Network is the centerpiece of bringing the best oncology care available today to Calvert.”
He went on to add, “I see this collaborative effort as a strategic step that builds upon the robust program already in place at CalvertHealth Medical Center.
Medical Director of the Duke Cancer Network Dr. Linda Sutton said, “CalvertHealth’s affiliation with the Duke Cancer Network is an opportunity to build on its existing strengths and provide robust new treatment options for patients. We are excited to work with CalvertHealth to make the highest level of cancer care accessible close to home.”
Building on a Solid Foundation
“This is a true multidisciplinary program that compares in a positive way to what you would find in an academic center,” said Dr. Tsangaris, whose 30-year-career in oncology has included leadership positions at some of the nation’s most prestigious academic institutions.
Cancer care at CalvertHealth has evolved considerably over the past three decades – from the addition of cutting-edge technology and multidisciplinary teams focused on specific tumor sites to the introduction of genetic testing and the rapidly expanding role of immunotherapy, which has been a game-changer in producing more favorable outcomes with fewer side effects.
“At the core of what is happening,” said Dr. Tsangaris, “is how these cancer initiatives impact the lives of the people who rely on us for their care … the hundreds of newly diagnosed cancer patients we treat every year and the thousands of cancer survivors who need our ongoing care and support.”
Targeting a Pressing Need
The statistics are sobering. For more than 10 years, cancer care has ranked among the top three health care needs of Calvert County residents. According to the State Cancer Profiles provided by the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Calvert County has higher rates on average for both the U.S. and the state of Maryland for: Breast cancer deaths; lung and bronchus cancer deaths; prostate cancer deaths; bladder cancer incidence and deaths; and colorectal cancer incidence.
“One of the largest healthcare issues we have in this county is cancer,” said CalvertHealth President & CEO Dean Teague. “While we are proud of our entire cancer team
and our oncology program, it will take more to meet this pressing need.
“This was the impetus for joining with the Duke Cancer Network,” said Teague. “With more than 30 years working with affiliates throughout the Eastern United States, the Duke Cancer Network is backed by the resources of the Duke Cancer Institute, ranked among the top four percent of U.S. centers designated as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center.”
Quality Cancer Care Close to Home
He went on to add, “Our mission is to build a world-class cancer program right here in our community. This affiliation allows us to receive the most current training and staff education when it comes to cancer care. Plus, we now have access to the latest cancer research.
“What is especially important,” said Teague, “is the pivotal role the Duke Cancer Network will play in guiding the development of our clinical trials program. Their experts will be collaborating with the clinical teams treating patients locally. All of this adds up to an enhanced quality of cancer care close to home.”
CalvertHealth medical oncologist Dr. Arati Patel underscored this point, “The positive impact of this collaboration on direct patient care is going to be felt almost immediately.”
CHMC MILESTONES IN CANCER CARE
1991 – Developed the Woman’s Wellness program to provide for early detection and intervention of breast and cervical cancer. The program offered free mammograms and well-woman exams for those with low or limited income who could not afford them.
1995 – Local cancer program was first accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. This approval means Calvert’s program meets national standards that ensure cancer patients receive the best possible care at the local level.
1997 – Established a special subcommittee dedicated to cancer education. Through health fairs, wellness classes and free screenings, the hospital stressed the importance of prevention and early detection.
1999 – Added a highly advanced gamma camera to the nuclear medicine department. The new technology affords exceptional diagnostic capability – producing simultaneous images from the front and back, which is critical in scanning for metastasis (the spread of cancer to distant sites from the original tumor).
2000 – Kicked off a countywide colorectal public awareness campaign to encourage residents to learn more about how to prevent the disease through a healthy lifestyle and regular screening. Free fecal occult tests were distributed as part of the program.
2002 – Initiated “Look Good … Feel Better,” a free, monthly workshop presented by a volunteer cosmetologist, which provides renewed self-confidence and emotional recovery for breast cancer patients.
2001 – Partnered with the local health department to create a broad-based coalition to develop the Calvert County Cancer Control Plan. The coalition opted to use the county’s portion of the Tobacco Settlement Funds to build on the colorectal screening program already in place at the hospital.
2001 – Launched the Tobacco Road Show to reduce teen smoking. The 40-minute interactive demonstration teaches local middle school students about the risks involved with smoking and provides them with the skills they need to not start or to stop.
2002 – Trained three board-certified surgeons to perform sentinel node biopsy, a minimally invasive procedure for determining how far a patient’s breast cancer has spread.
2003 – Added a multi-slice CT scanner capable of acquiring 32 images per second. The sophisticated technology is particularly useful for studying many different cancers allowing physicians to confirm the presence of a tumor and to measure its size, precise location and to determine if nearby tissue is affected.
2003 – Selected nationally certified oncology nurse as hospital’s first Cancer Care Coordinator – and the only one in the region – to work closely with patients and families to coordinate all aspects of care. A toll-free help line was established as a community resource.
2004 – Named board-certified oncologist Dr. Arati Patel as Cancer Liaison Physician. Her role is to develop community outreach activities like our men’s health program that focus on prevention and early detection.
2005 – Started free tobacco cessation classes for the community to target the high rate of smoking in Calvert County – one of the highest in the state. Added a cutting-edge PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanner that helps detect tumors and other diseases earlier and more accurately.
2006 – Joined with area hospitals to develop a state-of-the-art radiation center to serve the region. The facility, located in Charlotte Hall, represents a major milestone for cancer care in Southern Maryland offering access to the highest quality radiation therapy including advanced CT simulation and 3-D treatment planning.
2007 – Performed first brachytherapy at Calvert with urologist Dr. Shafquat Meraj and radiation oncologist Dr. Boris Naydich. The minimally invasive procedure involves inserting tiny radioactive seeds into the tumor in the prostate gland to shrink it and eventually destroy it. Studies show it to be an effective option for treating early-stage prostate cancer.
2007 – Adopted a smoke-free policy on June 1 prohibiting smoking anywhere on the main campus in Prince Frederick or at its medical centers in Dunkirk and Solomons. The step was taken to protect patients, visitors and employees from second-hand smoke and to encourage healthy lifestyles.
2008 – Opened new Cancer Resource Center in a dedicated space on the outpatient concourse. Here, patients and their families can access the latest information about cancer prevention, treatment and support. The center has an extensive collection of cancer-related books, videos, brochures and a computer with links to other cancer sites.
2009 – Renovated and expanded the CHMC Infusion Therapy Center to meet the increasing demand for cancer care locally. The $2.2-million project, which included $800,000 in state grant funds started in fall 2009 and took six months to complete.
2009 – Developed a Gynecologic Oncology Center in a collaborative effort with cancer specialists at Mercy Medical Center – offering Southern Maryland women the opportunity to be expertly treated for ovarian, cervical and uterine cancers close to home.
2010 – Opened the Center for Breast Care – the first of its kind in Southern Maryland – bringing together a team of breast health experts with an experienced navigator backed by the latest breast-imaging technology in one convenient location.
2010 – Introduced an aquatic therapy program at the county pool. The new program was well received by breast cancer patients recovering from surgery. The gentle exercises performed in warm water allow patients to improve their range of motion with decreased pain.
2010 – Created a SOS (Survivors Offer Support) program at our breast center with grant funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation Maryland Affiliate. Volunteers are trained to provide emotional support and practical advice to newly diagnosed patients.
2011 – Equipped the newly expanded Endoscopy Center with high-definition endoscopic cameras providing much sharper and more detailed images than enable physicians to better detect hard-to-find polyps and other early indications of cancer.
2012 – Celebrated the dedication of the Center for Breast Care in honor of Dr. Sheldon E. Goldberg, its founder and original medical director, who was the driving force behind its creation. Since his tragic death in a rafting accident last summer, the hospital leadership, his colleagues at the breast center and his family remain deeply committed to his vision of service and model of excellence.
2012 – Offered Genetic Testing, which can play an important role in a patient’s proactive, personalized cancer treatment program. Our genetics counselor can help assess your risk, explain your options and address how the results can impact your care.
2013 – Implemented Smart Pump Technology in our Infusion Therapy Center. The new technology has many built-in safeguards and offers superior accuracy, allowing us to deliver IV medications in the safest way possible.
2013 – Raised the bar on early breast cancer detection with the addition of 3D Mammography. The cutting-edge technology available at the breast center’s imaging partner, Calvert Medical Imaging Center (CMIC), is designed to detect even the most subtle signs of early cancer.
2014 – Began a High-risk Surveillance Clinic at the breast center. The clinic is designed as an additional resource for women who are at increased risk for breast cancer to provide them with the added surveillance, management and education they need to implement risk-reducing strategies to increase their overall survival.
2014 – CMIC designated “Breast Imaging Center of Excellence” by the American College of Radiology. This accreditation is the gold standard for excellence and is only given to facilities with proven best practice standards in image quality, personnel qualifications, facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs.
2016 – Invested $11.9 million in state-of-the-art imaging to keep Calvert at the forefront of diagnostic imaging for treating cancer, heart disease, neurovascular disorders and other conditions. The advanced technology provides outstanding clarity at low doses in less time, which aids in faster and more definite diagnosis.
2016 – Dedicated the Marianne Harms Women’s Care Suite. The new space, located in Suite 201 of the CalvertHealth Medical Arts Building, enabled the breast center to add exam rooms, enlarge its library and improve access for the community.
2016 – Convened a special task force to address the high incidence of breast, prostate and lung cancer among county residents. In response, developed a dedicated Oncology Services line that is coordinating cancer care efforts across the board with a particular focus on those cancers that are seen most often locally.
2016 –Launched Mobile Health Center to remove barriers to access in underserved areas. The mobile unit, which travels to remote and high-need areas of our community, provides breast exams and provides referrals to other cancer services, when needed.
2017 – Created a low-dose CT lung cancer screening program to detect the deadly disease before symptoms appear, when treatment can be more effective. Lung cancer is of particular concern in Calvert County with its high rate of smoking. The DeCesaris/Prout Cancer Foundation helped fund this vital effort that has benefitted hundreds of local residents.
2018 – Unveiled a new cancer care website (CalvertHealthMedicine/CancerCare) to help patients and families navigate treatment options. The oncology team spent the better part of a year developing the website, which provides information on all the cancer types treated at CalvertHealth as well as treatment options and the resources available.
2019 – Welcomed renowned breast surgeon Dr. Theodore Tsangaris as chief medical officer and cancer director. Dr. Tsangaris has more than 30 years of clinical expertise in oncology, including leadership positions at some of the nation’s top academic medical centers. His addition signals a strategic focus and investment of resources in the medical center’s community cancer program.
2019 – Expanded our team of cancer care navigators to include an oncology financial navigator. She works closely with patients and families to help ease any worries or concerns about treatment costs and insurance processing.
2019 – Added full-time dedicated breast imager Dr. Chandra Baker from Johns Hopkins to the multidisciplinary team at the breast center. She was joined by Dr. Bora Lee in 2020. All mammograms at Calvert are read by specialized breast imagers who exclusively read breast images. They play a central role in screening and evaluation. Their involvement helps assure an accurate diagnosis, which is critical to establishing the right treatment plan.
2019 – Earned three-year accreditation with commendation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). This is the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded.
2020 – Launched widespread public awareness campaign with community partners to educate parents about the dangers associated with vaping in the wake of the increased use of popular devices like JUUL by local teens.
2020 – Earned the Minogue Award for Patient Safety Innovation Top 20 for minimizing time to diagnosis for lung cancer patients undergoing biopsy procedures. Calvert’s thoracic quality study was highlighted as best practice by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
2020 – Expanded survivorship program to offer additional supportive resources to care for the special concerns cancer survivors may have, including an online wellness series, education for primary care providers and its first Annual Survivor Day. These pilot programs were funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maryland Department of Health Center for Cancer Prevention and Control.
2021 – Started a multidisciplinary breast cancer clinic where newly diagnosed patients can see multiple providers in just one visit; alleviating anxiety and added travel. Our goal is to get patients in to see our breast team faster and to provide the answers they need to make informed choices about their treatment options.
2021 – Recruited specialists to enhance local access to cancer care including general surgeon Dr. Ramzi Alami (GI and colon surgery) and urologist Dr. John Cooper. Their addition further advances the surgical and diagnostic expertise available at CMHC.
2021 – Advanced patient safety in infusion therapy with the addition of the IntelliDose® electronic chemotherapy ordering system. A $25,000 grant from the Chaney Enterprise Fund helped purchase the software, which adds another layer of protection by reducing the risks associated with hand-written orders.
2022 – Affiliated with National Cancer Institute designated center Duke Cancer Network. This relationship will improve patient access to treatment advances and clinical trials only available at the best cancer hospitals in the country.