normal support groups of family and friends

by her bedside. Initially, she had six rounds of

chemotherapy every four to six weeks; after

an additional surgery, she needed a treatment

once a month for 24 months. “It takes a lot of

energy being sick,” she says.

pARtNERs fOR LIfE Now a new relationship between the Gulf

Coast Medical Center and UAB—along with

four other similar medical centers—means

that cancer patients like Mrs. Thompkins

will be able to benefit from cancer research

done at UAB without having to leave their

local community hospitals.

In June 2011, the Cancer Center and UAB

Medicine launched the UAB Cancer Care

Network to bring leading-edge care to these

communities, giving patients an opportunity

to stay close to home while giving doctors

and nurses access to leading cancer research.

The network is an affiliation between the

Cancer Center and community cancer cen-

ters and hospitals in Alabama, Georgia and

Florida that provides access to the latest

discoveries in cancer research and offers an

unmatched level of expert cancer treatments

in those communities.

“This program was developed for people

like Jean—those who are diagnosed with

cancer, don’t live near a major academic med-

ical center and have limited choices for spe-

cialized cancer care close to home. Now they

can access it right in their very own com-

munities,” says Ed Partridge, M.D., Cancer

Center director.

The first five UAB Cancer Care Network

affiliates are the Medical Center of Central

Georgia in Macon, Georgia; Southeast

Alabama Medical Center in Dothan,

Alabama; Northeast Alabama Regional

Medical Center in Anniston, Alabama;

Russell Medical Center in Alexander City,

Alabama; and Gulf Coast Medical Center

in Panama City. Cancer Center and UAB

leadership plan to add additional affiliates in

the future.

“By working closely with our affiliates, we

can multiply the power of cancer research and

care while delivering premium cancer care

where it is most needed,” says Dr. Partridge.

“UAB’s 350 cancer scientists and clinicians

are making discoveries every day, and with

the UAB Cancer Care Network, we can now

offer increased access to those discoveries to

more communities, ultimately saving more

lives.”

 The Cancer Center will work closely with

each affiliate to support their cancer pro-

gram’s growth by providing access to UAB’s

best practices in cancer care, expanded access

to leading-edge clinical trials and support

services, physician and nursing education and

access to research expertise and resources at a

local level.

wIN-wIN  “Now people like me can get the care they

need right in their own backyard,” says Mrs.

Thompkins. “It is a win-win situation for

everybody. When you have cancer, it’s over-

whelming to go and find the best care while

dealing with the reality of having the disease.

With information-sharing between the two

facilities, the patients get the best type of care

they can get.”

She adds, “Patients now have access to the

latest research from a teaching hospital right

here in Panama City. Our physicians are

great, but now they are being supported even

more and are ready to deal with the most

complex of situations.”

Steve Stokes, M.D., a radiation oncologist

with Southeast Alabama Medical Center

(SAMC), says the community hospital

provides the best care it can for patients.

But, he adds, “UAB is a respected medical

research university, continually developing

cutting-edge techniques for cancer treatments

not available to smaller institutions.” For

example, UAB will work with SAMC to

improve patient outcomes as well as early

detection and treatment. The Cancer Center

will provide SAMC direct access to clinical

trials and support services. Such clinical trials

will be administered at SAMC under UAB’s

supervision.

Additionally, the affiliates will be able to

provide collaborative education and addi-

tional outreach activities to their local com-

munity members by offering enhanced access

to cancer education, health screenings and

information in their own areas.

“Ultimately it’s the patient that benefits,”

says Mrs. Thompkins. “Isn’t that what mat-

ters most?”

clinical update

u A b C o m P r e H e N S I V e C A N C e r C e N T e r 11

“By WorKiNg cLoSeLy With our AFFiLiAteS, We cAN muLtiPLy the

PoWer oF cANcer reSeArch ANd cAre WhiLe deLiveriNg

pREMIUM CANCER CARE whERE It Is

MOst NEEDED.” – ed Partridge