Cancer patients in this region now have expanded access to leading-edge clinical trials at Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) through an affiliation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham's (UAB) Cancer Care Network.
SAMC is the first and only hospital in the state to be a clinical and research network cancer site affiliated with UAB.
"Our patients will continue to receive the comprehensive quality cancer care offered by SAMC and Southeast Cancer Care Network," said Ronald S. Owen, SAMC Chief Executive Officer. "The clinical affiliation of these two highly respected cancer programs will provide area patients access to an enhanced level of services. The clinical trial and initiatives will be administered at SAMC allowing patients to stay at home rather than traveling to Birmingham."
Breast cancer patient Melinda McClendon said she nearly burst into tears after hearing about the new affiliation. The Dothan native was treated locally by Dr. Steve Stokes, and was referred to UAB where she was part of a clinical trial.
"I had to drive to Birmingham every three weeks and the drive home I was nauseated and emotionally drained," she said. "I thought, 'If I could just go to the Medical Center for this.' This affiliation is the greatest marriage. I almost wore a bridesmaid's dress today.
"This is a big deal, a fantastic deal for cancer patients in this area."
Dr. Ed Partridge, Director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, said he was excited to see the UAB affiliation sign out front of the Southeast Cancer Center Network.
"Our goal is for every patient to receive the highest quality cancer care they can – with that care delivered right at home if possible. We've had our eyes on the Medical Center for a long time. I knew Dr. Steve Stokes was here and I knew the quality of care that was here. We wanted you to be an institution of affiliation."
SAMC's cancer center is nationally recognized by the Commission on Cancer (CoC) and provides compassionate, attentive care for more than 800 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year as well as recurrent patients with ongoing treatment needs. An experienced team of board certified physician specialists and oncology professionals provides an array of state-of-the-art cancer diagnosis and treatment options to meet the wide ranging needs of cancer patients.
Only one in four hospitals nationally that treat cancer patients receives CoC approval. Recognition is given only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to provide the best in diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The affiliation with UAB will allow SAMC to collaborate with UAB Cancer Care Network to jointly pursue high-quality patient outcomes, improved access to early detection and treatment, and enhanced patient satisfaction.
Research site affiliation is a process that begins with a readiness assessment of SAMC's oncology services' preparedness for administering clinical trials. The readiness assessment will ensure the integrity of the quality standards related to the specifications of the scientific guidelines defined in the clinical trials. The readiness assessment will be performed by UAB and the certification to conduct clinical trials will be administered by a third-party governing agency.
Once the readiness assessment is successfully completed, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center will work closely with SAMC to support its cancer program's growth by providing access to UAB's best practices in cancer care, access to clinical trials and support services, physician and nursing education and access to research expertise and resources.
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Alabama and the Deep South and one of only 40 in the nation. The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the internationally recognized provider of oncology clinical guidelines, standards and protocols.