Mercy Medical Center and UCSF Collaborate to Improve Cancer Care

June 29, 2009
News Office: Elizabeth Fernandez (415) 502-6397

Mercy Medical Center Redding in Redding, Calif., and UCSF Medical Center have signed a letter of intent formalizing a collaboration that aims to improve cancer-related care for Mercy's patient population in the far northern region of California.

Services provided through the collaboration will capitalize on the strengths of UCSF's sub-specialty clinical expertise and top-notch cancer research programs combined with Mercy's community resources and medical staff expertise. The overriding focus of the collaboration is to provide excellent cancer care close to home, according to the medical centers' executive officers Rick Barnett of Mercy and Mark Laret of UCSF.

The goal of the collaboration is to increase cancer disease prevention and improve access to high quality, evidence-based care throughout Mercy's service area, they said.

Under the terms of the letter of intent, the two organizations have committed to an initial partnership of five years.

Mercy Medical Center is a 273-bed community hospital affiliated with Catholic Healthcare West (CHW). Located 210 miles northeast of San Francisco, Mercy is the regional referral center in far Northern California and is designated as the area's trauma center. It offers a broad array of advanced medical, surgical and special services. It is part of CHW North State, which also includes St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff, Calif., and Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta in Mt. Shasta, Calif.

"While Mercy can already offer a broad spectrum of community-based cancer treatment, there are generally few to no sub-specialty cancer services available, making the new collaboration with UCSF particularly valuable," said Barnett, Mercy Medical Center Redding president. The 630-bed UCSF Medical Center is Northern California's highest volume provider of some of the most advanced patient care in the U.S. administered through the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the largest clinical and research cancer programs in the country.

According to Barnett, the collaborative efforts between the two organizations will help provide patients with the best medical care close to home, while encouraging individuals to seek specialty treatment at UCSF should they need highly advanced care that is not available locally.

"Our relationship with UCSF marks another step in advancing and making accessible a higher level of cancer care to those in our region living with cancer. It is our expressed hope to continually collaborate with those who can help bring 'best in class' medicine to our regional community," Barnett said.

In the first phase of the agreement, the two organizations will set up an express referral line from Mercy to UCSF in order to expedite the referral process for patients in need of specialty care who may be best treated at UCSF.

In addition, the medical staffs at the two hospitals will begin conducting joint educational conferences about certain cases and conditions in order to determine the best course of treatment and give patients access to the most advanced therapies.

As part of this initial effort, doctors at Mercy also will receive current information on UCSF's cancer clinical trials and have a designated liaison for enrolling appropriate patients, and the two organizations will work together to develop an annual symposium on cancer prevention and treatment for consumers and doctors in the Mercy service region.

"This is an exciting collaboration that we anticipate will be highly beneficial to patients as UCSF strives to make its high-level health care available to people in northern California,’" said Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center.

Laret also said he hopes that Mercy and UCSF's relationship will serve as an example for future collaborative efforts between Catholic Healthcare West hospitals and UCSF that strive to improve cancer prevention and treatment.

The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center was designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1999 in recognition of the highest level of excellence in both its scientific research and its ability to integrate diverse research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer and improve patient outcomes. The center ranks first in California and sixth nationwide in NCI research grants and is home to pioneers in research into genetic, cellular and immune system causes and responses to cancer. For more information, visit www.ucsfhealth.org/cancer.

About Mercy Medical Center Redding:

Mercy Medical Center Redding has been named among the nation's best hospitals for delivering high quality care with the most efficient use of resources by The Leapfrog Group. The organization designated Mercy as one of only 13 hospitals in the nation — only one of two hospitals in California — as a "Highest Value Hospital."

Mercy Medical Center Redding is a member of CHW North State with Mercy Mt. Shasta and St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff. For more information, please visit www.mercy.org or call (530) 24-mercy (246-3729).

About UCSF Medical Center:

UCSF Medical Center is recognized for innovative medicine, advanced technology and compassionate care, and ranks as one of the nation's top 10 hospitals by US News and World Report. It is part of the University of California, San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information about doctors or medical services call (888) 689-UCSF or visit www.ucsfhealth.org.