CARBONDALE - A new partnership between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Southern Illinois Healthcare will bring enhanced medical care to Southern Illinois residents battling cancer, officials announced Wednesday.
The Simmons Cancer Institute at SIUC School of Medicine in Springfield is joining SIH's Cancer Institute to offer patients in need of advanced cancer care specialized surgeries or treatment. This is the first alliance the Simmons institute has made with a downstate health care group. Patients will now have access to specialist at the SIU medical campus but still receive treatments close to home, officials said.
"True partnerships take work, organization and dedication," said SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng. "I look forward to much good to come from this partnership for our friends and family battling the collective diseases known as cancer."
Physicians with SIH diagnose more than 700 new cancer cases each year. About 10 percent of those patients need specialized consultation or treatment not available in the area. Under the new partnership, officials said more than 30 SIU specialists will lead 11 cancer care teams and have nearly 1,700 patient visits each month.
"This is a great day of progress for Southern Illinois," SIU President Glenn Poshard said. "This new and exciting collaboration ... is one more example of our university's commitment and service to the people of this region."
Dr. Mary Rosenow, director of the SIH Cancer Institute, said the partnership will allow cancer patients in Southern Illinois access to a variety of subspecialty experts in the field. The region also has a strong breast cancer care presence, and plans are in the works to add similar groups focusing on lung, prostate and colorectal cancers and melanoma.
The SIH Cancer Institute currently offers care at its three community hospitals in Carbondale, Herrin and Murphysboro, as well as specialty clinics to patients and families in the 16 southernmost counties of the state. Simmons Cancer Institute has 20 open clinical trials statewide and will open a new clinical trials office at SIH. Patients will also have access to an additional 100 cancer trials through other community oncology programs.
The Simmons Cancer Institute also offers an even more extended array of services for patients who need it, including children, she said.
"Patients get the best care but stay close to home as much as possible," Rosenow said.
As partners, SIU and SIH plan to work together on consultations for newly-diagnosed cancer patients.
"The existing bond between our institutions is strengthened today and signals a continued commitment by the specialists at Simmons Cancer Institute to serve the people who live in the southern region of our state," said. Dr. K. Thomas Robbins, director of the Simmons institute.