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On the Cutting Edge

Annual Report - Winter 2012

Regional care centers 
add surgery


By Jacqueline Preston

As he ends each week traveling from Katy to the Bay Area to care for his patients, Richard Ehlers, M.D., never loses sight of his calling.

“Most cancer care around Houston and the nation is delivered in the community setting outside of large academic centers. We want to broaden our territory and give patients the option to receive MD Anderson care in a location closer to their homes,” says Ehlers, assistant professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Surgical Oncology. “Now, patients are delighted that we’re there for them in their communities.”

Richard Ehlers, M.D.

Ehlers is part of a growing team of highly trained 
MD Anderson surgical oncologists who care for patients through the institution’s ever-expanding suburban regional care network.

The centers began providing community breast surgical services in 2010. Ehlers was the first surgical oncologist to treat patients at the centers.

Since October 2010, nearly 500 new surgical patients and consultations have been seen there by Ehlers and breast surgical oncologists Loren Rourke, M.D., and Susan Hoover, M.D. 

They are supported by a team that includes mid-level providers and nurses. While the more complex surgical cases are referred to the institution’s Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus, Ehlers says he and his surgical teammates operate in well-equipped community hospitals.

Quality care closer to home

Robust collaboration has been the driving force behind the surgical oncology program.

Peter Pisters, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology and medical director of the regional care centers, sees the value in replicating the TMC cancer care model in the community setting. Here fellowship-trained surgical, medical and radiation oncologists can work together using the MD Anderson format of team-based treatment planning.

For nearly two years, since he assumed the regional leadership role, he has worked to deliver on MD Anderson’s promise to provide the institution’s standard of care on a system-wide scale across Houston.

“Our goal is to develop community-based, academically linked, multidisciplinary, disease-specific programs that bring MD Anderson’s brand name to a market of nearly 6 million in our metro region,” he says.

Resources: Regional Care Centers

  • Regional care centers

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