Nebraska Cancer Specialists Expands to Central Nebraska
Beginning on August 1, 2021, the Medical Oncologists of CHI Health Regional Cancer Center in the Grand Island area will be joining Nebraska Cancer Specialists (NCS).
The board-certified medical oncologists and hematologists, Dr. Ryan Ramaekers, Dr. David Crockett, Dr. Pornchai Jonglertham, and Dr. Sarah Creamer and a team of oncology professionals will enhance Nebraska Cancer Specialists’ existing group of 12 board-certified medical oncologists, 1 nuclear medicine physician, 1 radiation oncologist combining nearly 300 dedicated oncology experts. The four central Nebraska providers will continue to provide care at the Regional Cancer Center on the CHI Health St. Francis campus as well as in their existing cancer center in the Hastings Landmark Center.
In addition to providing care at the Regional Cancer Center located on the CHI St Francis campus, of which 19,000 square feet will be leased and occupied by Nebraska Cancer Specialists beginning 8/1/2021, we are excited to announce a second location at the Grand Island Regional Medical Center opening early 2022. Building will begin this fall. The cancer center will include exam rooms, pharmacy, and full infusion suite for hematology and oncology patients.
Locations and Commitment
“At NCS our core values impact where and how we deliver care. When communities identify a need and reach out to us, we do the research to determine how we can provide support. In this case we knew with our team of experts and services we had the capacity and the knowledge to deliver care where it’s needed. We go to where our patients are and we are proud to be serving the Grand Island and Hastings area beginning in August”, said Kelly Horn, Director of Marketing and Community Outreach.
“By bringing community oncology to the residents of the Grand Island area, patients and caregivers will now have access to state of the art oncology care and treatment, more clinical trial options than ever before, and more flexibility and options in specialists referrals and appropriate care”, said Horn.
As part of an independent community oncology practice, providers are able to deliver efficient, patient-centered oncology care at lower costs to patients, health plans, and other community physicians. Independent community oncologists, like the physicians at Nebraska Cancer Specialists (NCS), are in private practice and offer highly personalized and immediate care. Regional specialists work in collaboration with national specialists allowing the availability of second opinions if needed and access to clinical trials. NCS oncologists are on the medical staff of the local hospitals and personally follow patients when they are admitted to the hospital. Like other community oncology practices, Nebraska Cancer Specialists has the staff and resources to provide the needed treatments, in a personal, local and convenient setting. The majority of community oncologists’ time is spent in direct patient care.
“Our independent practice model has allowed us to provide care in a wide variety of settings over the years and has allowed us to adapt to the needs of our patients and colleagues,” said Dr. Robert Langdon, NCS President.
The issue of cost in cancer care is not one to be taken lightly. Cancer is unfortunately an expensive disease to treat. The drugs can be very costly, as are imaging studies, lab tests and many other procedures. However, the biggest single determinant of the cost of care, which is in a patient’s control, is the choice of oncologist – specifically, whether or not they function as a community oncologist or as part of a hospital system or institution.
“We are excited to become an independent practice to allow us more flexibility in serving our patients and referring providers from any facility in central Nebraska. We could not have chosen a better group than Nebraska Cancer Specialists. This collaboration will allow us to continue providing exceptional medical oncology care to our current and future patients,” said Dr. Ramaekers. “We are looking forward to bringing new technology, such as a nuclear medicine theranostics program, and more clinical trials than we have ever been able to offer our patients in central Nebraska.”
We want to be where the patients are
We realize the need and desire for convenient and comfortable access to care. With the addition to Grand Island Regional Medical Center patients now have a choice for care in the area.
“The new partnership is yet another way Nebraska Cancer Specialists is growing to meet the needs of patients and families across the state,” said Danielle Geiger, NCS Practice Administrator. “Our focus has always been to offer patients compassionate and cutting-edge care, and we are excited to bring this approach to the Grand Island and Hastings area. We think this philosophy of care will resonate well with the community.”
Because NCS is privately owned and operated, providers can accept and refer patients to and from any physician, specialist, location, health system. This allows for more flexibility in serving the local patient population. This means additional opportunities for referrals and appropriate care when needed. The transition extends the continuum of care most community residents are used to by adding a comprehensive community based cancer program including:
The state’s largest oncology clinical trials research department
Nebraska Cancer Specialists is proud to have the region’s largest community oncology Research Department offering phase I through phase IV trials.
On average, patients have access to over 100 active clinical trials, more than any other facility in Nebraska. These trials offer patients innovative treatments that may not be available outside the trial thus providing access to cutting edge treatment options.
For those trials launching at NCS, being a community oncology practice adds a further advantage in that a review board can open a trial a very short period of time. This can be extremely crucial to those patients who may be running out of options and looking to participate in earlier phase studies.
Dedication to research has established NCS as a leader in the industry and boasts many firsts:
- 1st community oncology practice to enroll a patient globally in a prostate cancer trial
- 1st study site open for enrollment on numerous trials
- 1st site to enroll patients nationally on a melanoma, kidney and lung cancer trial
The research program at NCS has grown tremendously, now consisting of more than 25 dedicated oncology research team members, conducting phase 1-IV trials, enrolling more than 300 patients in clinical trials over the last few years. This program is a turning point for cancer patients in the Midwest, who will play a key role in accelerating cancer research, leaving a legacy for those to follow.
Nuclear Medicine Theranostics Program
Nebraska Cancer Specialists (NCS) in has the Midwest’s first and largest dedicated Theranostics center, providing state-of-the-art clinical care and research opportunities for patients. Theranostics uses Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT), which is targeted radiation to kill cancer cells from within. Adults with neuroendocrine and now prostate cancer tumors are among the first patients who can benefit from PRRT.
In order to continue a fully integrated approach to care, NCS is bringing the latest in molecular level PET/CT imaging to its Theranostics center. The state-of-the-art imaging suite gives the flexibility to offer a wide variety of clinical imaging using the latest technology available to patients. Most recently, NCS began offering Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) PET imaging for prostate cancer, which is the second most common cancer in men. The PSMA PET works by using a radioactive tracer. Nuclear medicine physicians inject the tracer, which attaches itself to proteins that overexpress themselves in cancer tumors, enabling physicians to pinpoint their location, which can allow for more treatment options.
After the tumors are identified with PET/CT, a tumor-killing radioactive particle may be precisely directed to the tumor sites, killing cancer cells.
This is unlike any other type of cancer therapy in that the cancer killing radioactive particles are precisely drawn to tumor cells like iron filings are drawn to a magnet. Nebraska Cancer Specialists is uniquely able to provide this combined diagnostic and therapeutic approach to not only neuroendocrine and prostate cancer patients, but to an increasing number of diverse malignancies.
NCS has created a comprehensive care model that allows complete care for our patients from diagnosis to treatment. Theranostics is one of the fastest growing areas in nuclear medicine and oncology, delivering exciting opportunities for cancer patients. Currently the Theranostics center treats patients out of the Midwest Cancer Center – Legacy near 175th and Center street in Omaha.
NCS Outpatient Pharmacy is accredited by Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) for compliance with a comprehensive set of national standards. By choosing a healthcare provider that has achieved ACHC accreditation, you can take comfort in knowing that you will receive the highest quality care.
Oral chemotherapy drugs along with select supportive medicines, such as anti-nausea, anticoagulants and antibiotics will be available, for continuity of care. We also have the capability to confirm prescription benefits coverage and investigate alternative co-payment assistance resources (e.g., patient assistance programs, manufacturer-funded assistance, etc) to better ensure our patients receive their medication as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
Supportive Care Services
Patients going through cancer treatment not only need support medically, but mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. At NCS we believe in treating the whole person, mind, body and soul. We do this through a variety of services including mental health, occupational therapy, genetic testing, nutrition services, palliative care, survivorship programs, yoga and fitness classes, and patient financial advocates.
Employees and Volunteers
“We are committed to our state and to our roots. We believe in keeping patients close to their families and loved ones at all costs and providing care right here in their neighborhood,” said Kelly Horn, Director of Marketing and Community Outreach. “We also believe in work life balance. Our healthcare team lives and raises their families in the area and are active parts of the community. This remains extremely important to us.”
NCS is still looking for infusion nurses to join the team. For more information on our open positions and sign on bonuses, please visit NebraskaCancer.com/careers. Along with our team of dedicated oncology experts, a robust volunteer program is also in place. For more information on oncology volunteers to assist the team with their time, talent and expertise, please visit NCS HOPEFoundation.org and click on How Can I Help.