Teaming up to fight cancer: Grand Island medical oncologists join NCS

The Grand Island Independent
August 1st, 2021
By: Robert Pore

Grand Island medical oncologist joining Nebraska Cancer Specialists starting Aug. 1

The Medical Oncologists of CHI Health Regional Cancer Center in the Grand Island area will be joining Nebraska Cancer Specialists (NCS) on Aug 1. NCS is an independent comprehensive community oncology clinic based in Omaha.

The board-certified medical oncologists and hematologists, Dr. Ryan Ramaekers, Dr. David Crockett, Dr. Pornchai Jonglertham, and Dr. Sarah Creamer, all of Grand Island, will join Nebraska Cancer Specialists’ existing group of 12 board-certified medical oncologists.

“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,” Ramaekers said. “We could not have chosen a better group than Nebraska Cancer Specialists.”

Ramaekers said the collaboration will allow them to continue providing exceptional medical oncology care to current and future patients. “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 patients in central Nebraska,” Ramaekers said.

According to Kelly Horn, NCS director of marketing and community outreach,  with the expansion, NCS consists 16 medical oncologists, one nuclear medicine physician, one radiation oncologist and nearly 300 dedicated oncology professionals. She said the four central Nebraska physicians 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.

At the Regional Cancer Center, Horn said NCS will be leasing 19,000 square feet. A second location at the Grand Island Rregional Medical Center will be 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.

“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.

Horn said NCS 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,” she said. “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 August 1, 2021.”

Horn said 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.

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.

She said 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,” Horn said. “The majority of community oncologists’ time is spent in direct patient care.”

Danielle Geiger, NCS practice administrator, said the new partnership is “yet another way Nebraska Cancer Specialists is growing to meet the needs of patients and families across the state.”

“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,” Geiger said. “We think this philosophy of care will resonate well with the community.”

Horn said the issue of cost in cancer care is not one to be taken lightly.

“Cancer is unfortunately an expensive disease to treat,” she said. “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.”

Horn said NCS realizes 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,” she said. “Because NCS is privately owned and operated, providers can accept and refer patients to and from any physician, specialist, location, health system.”

Horn said this allows for more flexibility in serving the local patient population.

“This means additional opportunities for referrals and appropriate care when needed,” she said. “The transition extends the continuum of care most community residents are used to by adding a comprehensive community based cancer program.”

Those programs include:

— 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,” Horn said.

She said 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,” Horn said.

NCS was the first community oncology practice to enroll a patient globally in a prostate cancer trial. It was the first study site open for enrollment on numerous trials. It was also the first 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,” Horn said. “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 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. — Out-patient pharmacy

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.

— 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

NCS is still looking for infusion nurses to join the team.  For more information on available positions and sign on bonuses, please visit NebraskaCancer.com/careeers.  Horn said along with NCS’s team of oncology experts, they have a volunteer program.

“We are looking for oncology volunteers to assist our team with their time, talent and expertise,” Horn said.

For more information on our volunteer program, please visit NCS HOPEFoundation.org and click on How Can I Help.

“We are committed to our state and to our roots,” Horn said. “We believe in keeping patients close to their families and loved ones at all costs and providing care right here in their neighborhood.”

She said NCS  also believes in work life balance.

“Our healthcare team lives and raises their families in the area and are active parts of the community,” Horn said. “This remains extremely important to us.”

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