“Our cancer center is small, but punches well above its weight,” Dr. David Kraus explained.
He is the medical director for Radiation Oncology at the Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Community Cancer Center. His comment may reveal why the center was just awarded a Silver Accreditation status, its highest level yet, from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
In its sixth triennial evaluation of the program, the commission found no deficiencies in the center’s operations, and bestowed five commendations. They cited the center’s clinical trials program, commitment to ongoing cancer education, public reporting of outcomes, conformance with College of American Pathology protocols, and the accuracy of its reporting to the National Cancer Data Base.
The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer completed its survey in April, rating the center on 27 different performance standards. Passing all 27 with five commendations gave the center a Silver status. Seven commendations would advance the center to Gold, the highest offered by the commission.
Ongoing participation in the accreditation program is important for several reasons, according to Lynn Love Kannenberg, certified tumor registrar for the center.
“This achievement demonstrates our dedication to high quality care, ongoing improvement, and public accountability,” she said. “For our patients and our community, meeting and exceeding these national standards ensures the highest quality of service, and makes it available close to home.”
She cited the deep involvement of physicians and staff, along with the center’s range of state-of-the-art services and equipment, for the high accreditation rating.
“The commission’s surveyor commended Dr. Kraus and members of our Cancer Committee on their level of engagement,” she said.
Dr. Kraus credited the cancer center’s founder, Dr. Bill Newsom (now retired), as the driving force behind creating the center and building its platform of success.
“In the mid-90s, Dr. Newsom envisioned a cancer center that would serve our community, so our residents wouldn’t have to travel long distances to get needed care,” he said. “His compassion and commitment were inspirations to those who joined him in the cancer program.”
In 2013 a total of 412 cancer patients were diagnosed at the center, Love said. Of them, 380 (92 percent) received all or part of their treatment at SNMH. The remainder sought treatment elsewhere or refused treatment altogether, she noted.
The top five diagnoses were breast cancer (95), lung cancer (62), prostate (39), bladder (31), and colon (20).
“The most effective cancer medicines and radiation technology are no longer the exclusive domain of large urban or academic cancer centers,” Dr. Kraus said. “Access and expertise are available right here in our hospital. What makes the cancer center special is the cohesiveness of our staff and their devotion towards our patients, treating everyone like a neighbor and friend.”
All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.