Bringing World-Class Cancer Treatments to Patients in Southeast Ireland
A Unique Public-Private Partnership with UPMC Provides Care Closer to Home
To meet the need for advanced cancer treatment in rural southeast Ireland, UPMC entered into a unique public-private partnership with the country’s health and social services department—the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide radiation oncology to patients in that region. The creation of the UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre in Waterford, Ireland. This marked the first international location of UPMC CancerCenter, an integrated community network of comprehensive care facilities, cancer physicians, and other health care specialists.
Since the start of the project, the organizations shared expertise and assets, working together to implement quality oversight, advanced medical training, performance data tracking and research programs. UPMC’s support helped the Cancer Centre to not only offer the most advanced radiation oncology therapy available, but also set a precedent in Ireland for providing world-class cancer care to patients closer to their homes.
UPMC and the HSE Address Barriers to Advanced Oncology Care in Southeast Ireland
Prior to 2006, cancer care facilities in Ireland were concentrated in large metropolitan areas. Patients in the more remote parts of the country—especially in the southeast—faced considerable hardships in accessing advanced cancer treatments in a consistent and effective manner.
To address these difficulties and provide care for patients closer to home, local leaders appealed for an advanced radiation oncology treatment center in Waterford, the largest city in the southeastern region of Ireland. The HSE and local doctors reached out to UPMC for expertise and guidance in developing a high-level, quality cancer care solution for the area’s patients, eventually taking a trip to visit its facilities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“We were able to meet with UPMC leadership, witness firsthand how things were being run, and receive training in some of the technologies we were about to use,” said Dr. Dayle Hacking, a radiation oncologist at UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre and UPMC Ireland’s medical director.
Soon an agreement between UPMC and the HSE was reached, and the new cancer center was immediately connected to the expertise, technology, education, and treatment capabilities available through UPMC’s network.
“We came with nearly three decades of experience building cancer centers, and we believed a cancer center in Waterford could gain from our knowledge, including the hard lessons we learned that led to our own success,” said Charles Bogosta, president of UPMC International Services and UPMC CancerCenter.
“We came with nearly three decades of experience building cancer centers, and we believed a cancer center in Waterford could gain from our knowledge, including the hard lessons we learned that led to our own success.”
– Charles Bogosta, President of UPMC International Services and UPMC CancerCenter
UPMC Guides Whitfield to Offer World-Class, Optimized Cancer Treatment
UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre, which brought together UPMC’s advanced oncology expertise with the HSE’s access to patients, accepted its first private patient in November 2006 and its first public patient in March 2007.
“Now we had not only surgeons, we had chemotherapy; we had medical oncologists, but now we also had radiation oncologists. This fit in perfectly with the development of multidisciplinary cancer care,” said Dr. Gordon Watson, chairman of the South East Radiotherapy Trust and retired consultant surgeon.
Since opening, Whitfield has completed almost 5,300 rounds of oncology care, including treatments related to breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer. Today, it treats more than 1,000 patients annually with the most advanced radiation therapies available and is often among the first centers in Ireland to do so.
Many attribute the center’s ongoing growth and success to the seamless integration between the UPMC and Ireland teams, as well as its strong relationships and transparency both inside the clinic and with the surrounding community.
“Understandably, the project was met with some skepticism at first,” said Catriona McDonald, the Cancer Centre’s director of operations. “There hadn’t been a fully private clinic like ours before. … But now, Whitfield is a focal point of the community and is absolutely viewed as a huge asset.”
“To have the facility here in Waterford was just unbelievable. … It’s only out the road, and it was just amazing and fantastic facility,” said Noelle Harshley, a former patient and local resident in rural southeast Ireland.
Whitfield Cancer Centre Receives Recognition in Ireland and around the World
Since opening, Whitfield Cancer Centre became the first clinic in Ireland to achieve several oncology milestones. The Cancer Centre was also accredited by the Joint Commission International and Ambulatory Care Standards and continues to further benchmark its performance against quality metrics in the United States.
Recently, the Cancer Centre was nominated for the third time, by staff and patients, for the Irish Institute of Radiography and Radiation Therapy (IIRRT) and MEDRAY award for Department of the Year. Patient and staff surveys further reflect the enormous pride and satisfaction levels surrounding the Centre.
“We have a truly amazing network of dedicated providers working hand-in-hand to coordinate cancer care for patients in this region,” said Ms. McDonald. “Whitfield has become recognized as the template for future public-private health care partnerships in Ireland.”
“We have a truly amazing network of dedicated providers working hand-in-hand to coordinate cancer care for patients in this region. Whitfield has become recognized as the template for future public-private health care partnerships in Ireland.”
– Catriona McDonald, Director of Operations, UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre
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