June 2016

Keyserling Cancer Center Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Author: Special to CH2

It wasn’t so long ago that cancer patients living in Beaufort County had to travel more than an hour to receive radiation treatment. “It was particularly difficult for patients who needed to have radiation therapy right after their chemo,” said Dr. Majd Chahin, a board-certified oncologist who has been practicing in the Beaufort area for 20 years. “Feeling sick and exhausted from the drug therapy, they would have to make the long drive to Charleston or Savannah every day for weeks.”

That all changed in April 2006 when Beaufort Memorial Hospital opened the Keyserling Cancer Center in Port Royal. Recognizing a large part of cancer treatment is performed on an outpatient basis, BMH collaborated with Duke Medicine to build and develop a first-class cancer center that offers patients coordinated outpatient care just a few miles from the main hospital campus.

“The vision behind the cancer center was to bring resources under one roof to make it convenient for our patients and provide the best available treatment,” said Connie Duke, Beaufort Memorial oncology services director. “It’s not just radiation and medical oncology; it encompasses everything from nutritional counseling to support groups to social worker services.”

Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Keyserling Cancer Center stands among an elite group of medical facilities to be accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer. Just four years after opening its doors, BMH was awarded Accreditation with Commendation—the highest level of endorsement—for achieving excellence in all eight core areas of cancer care including clinical services, research, quality improvement and community outreach. The commission’s standards set the framework for a program that provides patients with high-quality, coordinated care from the time they are diagnosed to the end of treatment.

Only 30 percent of hospitals in the country have received the coveted accreditation, considered the gold standard of cancer care. According to the American College of Surgeons, these 1,500 medical centers diagnose and treat 71 percent of all newly-diagnosed cancer patients in the United States.

After an extensive on-site evaluation of Beaufort Memorial’s 25,000-square-foot facility, the Commission on Cancer honored BMH with its New Program Outstanding Achievement Award.

“I never anticipated this kind of success,” said Chahin, medical director of Beaufort Memorial Oncology Services and principal investigator for the hospital’s clinical trials program. “It’s incredible that in a small community like ours, patients can receive the advanced care and services typically found in much larger cities.”

Having both medical and radiation oncology in the same building not only makes it easier on patients, it facilitates the multidisciplinary approach to cancer care that has been shown to improve outcomes.

“Medicine has become so specialized, it’s impossible to keep up with the changes in other fields,” Chahin said. “When we collaborate, we each bring expertise to the table to come up with a better plan of treatment that incorporates the latest and greatest drugs and procedures.”

The hospital’s tumor board meets regularly to review patient cases and discuss alternatives for treatment. The group can include medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, radiologists and pathologists, along with any number of specialists from urologists to pulmonologists, depending on the types of cancer being diagnosed.
BMH also has invested millions of dollars upgrading the technology for radiation therapy—a cornerstone of cancer care. The Keyserling Cancer Center’s cutting-edge Varian radiotherapy system allows oncologists to locate and target tumors with pinpoint accuracy, minimizing the collateral damage to adjacent organs.

This spring, the hospital added radiation oncologist Dr. Jonathan Briggs to its medical staff. Formerly director of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, he brings with him 16 years’ experience treating the kinds of cancers most often seen in Beaufort, including cancers of the breast, prostate, skin and lung.
To meet the community’s growing need for cancer care, BMH also opened a new oncology practice and a chemotherapy and infusion center on the main hospital campus. Beaufort Memorial Oncology Specialists is headed by longtime medical oncologist Dr. Marcus Newberry III.

In addition to treating cancer patients, the board-certified physician is medical director of Beaufort Memorial Chemotherapy & Infusion Services. The state-of-the-art outpatient facility features a healing arts design with private and group treatment rooms where cancer patients can receive their drug therapy in a comfortable, relaxing setting.

Other support services provided by the hospital include a cancer resource center, support groups, patient navigation, counselors, cancer screenings, nutritional counseling and outpatient care coordinators who can direct patients to the resources they need.

The hospital offers breast cancer patients several additional services, including a lymphedema specialist and a breast nurse navigator who serves as their advocate from diagnosis to post-treatment follow-up.

In May, BMH entered into a new affiliation with the Medical University of South Carolina Health System (MUSC Health) that allows the community hospital to participate in clinical trials through the National Cancer Institute-designated Hollings Cancer Center. The agreement allows qualifying cancer patients to participate in cutting-edge clinical trials locally.

“You don’t have to travel to a major teaching hospital anymore to receive the most advanced cancer care,” Duke said. “It’s available right here close to home.” 

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