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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - SJH Cancer Program Earns National Award

VINELAND, NJ (September 11) – The South Jersey Healthcare cancer program has received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) Commission on Cancer (CoC), further distinguishing it as a program that delivers excellent cancer services. The CoC, which is the accrediting body for cancer programs throughout the United States, granted full three-year approval with commendation to the cancer program in 2006.
The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes cancer programs that strive for excellence in providing quality care to cancer patients. Just six percent of hospitals surveyed last year by the ACoS were presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award. SJH was one of only two cancer programs in New Jersey, and one of only 31 in the United States to receive the award this year, and one of only nine community hospital cancer programs to receive the award nationwide.

A facility receives the award following an on-site evaluation by a physician surveyor during which the facility demonstrates a commendation level of compliance with seven standards that represent the full scope of a cancer program (cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical services, research, community outreach, and quality improvement). In addition a facility must receive a compliance level rating for the remaining 29 standards.

“A relentless desire to provide the finest cancer care has been a hallmark of the SJH cancer program since it was established almost 30 years ago,” said Rama Sudhindra, M.D., chair of the SJH Cancer Committee. “As the program continues to evolve, we remain dedicated to bringing the best treatment options to our patients.”

Much of the cancer program’s progress and growth is attributable to the leadership of David Blom, D.O., the immediate past chair of the Cancer Committee who served in that role for more than 25 years. The exemplary work of the SJH Oncology Data Services Department (formally known as the Tumor Registry) also plays a key role in the cancer program’s achievements.

“The ACoS places high value on the accurate and timely reporting of cancer cases,” said Melanie Pirollo, director of SJH Cancer Services. “Our Oncology Data Services staff consistently meets or exceeds the standards set by the College.”

The SJH Cancer Program was launched in 1979, with the opening of the Department of Radiation Oncology. The cancer program first earned ACoS designation as a Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Program in the mid-80s. In 1995, SJH’s cancer program began its ongoing partnership with the renowned Fox Chase Cancer Center. Ten years later, the state-of-the art Frank and Edith Scarpa Regional Cancer Pavilion was opened on the campus of the Regional Medical Center.

Established in 1922 by the ACoS, the COC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education and monitoring of comprehensive care. The CoC’s Approvals Program sets quality-of-care standards for cancer programs and reviews them to ensure that they conform to those standards. Approval is given to facilities which are voluntarily committed to providing the highest level of quality cancer care and undergo a rigorous evaluation of their performance. To maintain approval, cancer programs must participate in an on-site review every three years.

Receiving cancer care at a CoC-approved program like SJH ensures that a patient will have access to:
  • comprehensive care, including a range of state-of-the-art service and equipment;
  • a multidisciplinary, team approach to coordinate the best treatment options;
  •  information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options;
  • access to cancer-related information, education and support;
  • a cancer registry that collects data on type and stage of cancers and treatment results, and offers lifelong   follow-up;
  • ongoing monitoring and improvement of care;
  • and quality care close to home.

Cancer patient data are reported by each CoC-approved cancer program to the CoC’s National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), a joint program with the ACoS. The NCDB currently contains patient demographics, tumor characteristics, and treatment and outcomes information for more than 16 million cancer patients diagnosed and treated at hospital cancer programs in the US between 1985 and 2003. These data account for approximately two-thirds of newly diagnosed cancer cases in the US each year.

NCBD data is used regularly to monitor the quality of patient care delivered in CoC approved cancer programs like SJH, and to improve cancer care outcomes at national and local levels. The CoC requires programs to implement quality improvement initiatives that promote the delivery of quality, multidisciplinary cancer care and lead to ongoing educational interventions with local providers in the CoC-approved cancer programs.

Through an exclusive partnership with the ACoS, the CoC provides the public with information on the resources, services and cancer treatment experience for each CoC-approved cancer program. This information is available on the ACoS Web site at and through the ACoS National Cancer Information Center at (800) ACS-2345.

SJH is a nonprofit, integrated health care system, providing access to a continuum of health services. SJH provides hospital services, numerous community health clinics, home health services, and specialty services, which serve the medical and health care needs of Southern New Jersey residents.