Growing centers offer convenience, timely access
By David Berkowitz
If you’re looking for Peter Pisters, M.D., or Kent Postma, your best bet would be to check the highways and byways of the greater Houston area. Directing
MD Anderson’s regional care centers demands a lot of the pair — and their cars.
If it’s Monday morning, this must be Sugar Land, southwest of Houston. Tuesday brings a trip north to The Woodlands. Thursday, it’s off to the Bay Area near Galveston. And Friday means a stop in Katy to the far west.
As the medical director and business operations director of the institution’s growing regional health care system, Pisters and Postma are constantly on the go.
“It’s important that everyone associated with the regional care centers understands the vision. This is the essence of transformational leadership. Being on site each week to communicate in person with our outstanding physicians, nurses and staff is a key part of that,” says Pisters, professor and longtime MD Anderson surgical oncologist, who was called on about a year ago to lead the regional initiative.
It started with radiation therapy
The regional care center concept traces its roots to 1999, when MD Anderson began providing radiation therapy in the community. That single-discipline treatment center approach has blossomed into multidisciplinary programs at four suburban locations with timely access to care.
In Fiscal Year 2010, more than 2,700 new patients and consultations were seen at the centers, which have a total staff of more than 150 employees, including 20 faculty members.
The regional care centers feature MD Anderson-trained experts in medical oncology and hematology, surgical oncology, radiation therapy, laboratory services and pharmacy.
These core services are complemented by physical and occupational therapy, nutritional assessment and education, integrative medicine programs, social work services and support groups.
A navigation team guides patients and referring physicians through the referral and treatment processes.
Centers touch more lives
While Postma has been involved in MD Anderson’s regional activities for more than 10 years, he’s most excited about the future.
“Dr. Pisters and I work a lot of long days, often starting at 6:30 a.m. and finishing with e-mail and phone calls well into the evening,” he says. “But it’s worth every minute to be part of an effort that touches the lives of more and more people across the Houston region.”