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Cancer Network of West Michigan Announcement

A new initiative to integrate cancer care services in West Michigan will soon give patients broader access to advanced, state-of-the-art, comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and support across leading health care institutions.

The Cancer Network of West Michigan, a joint venture between Mercy Health and Metro Health – University of Michigan Health, leverages the combined resources and capabilities of the two West Michigan health systems and Michigan Medicine, the academic medical center of the University of Michigan.

The boards of Metro Health and Trinity Health-Michigan had approved the entities entering into an agreement. The University of Michigan Board of Regents gave approval to execute the agreement at its regular meeting today. The parties are working to finalize the agreement over the next several weeks, with an expected effective date of January 1, 2020.

The innovative relationship will allow the institutions to collaborate to advance cancer treatment for families in West Michigan. The collaboration addresses the growing needs of West Michigan by expanding expertise and access to an extent that none of the organizations could achieve alone.

The connection to Michigan Medicine, a world-renowned cancer research center and one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation, will ultimately provide local community hospitals with a direct tie to advanced clinical trials, emerging protocols and internationally renowned researchers. In the future, patients will access that expertise through their local physicians at Mercy Health and Metro Health.

“Together, we can create a world-class comprehensive program for our communities, greater than any of us could create independently, all while keeping our patients at the center of all we do,” said Clifford Cho, MD, a surgical oncologist at Michigan Medicine and interim executive director of the Cancer Network. “This unique collaboration will help support patients by connecting them to the vast resources available across our respective facilities, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and advanced research.”

“Cancer is one of the most complicated diseases to treat, and increasingly sophisticated treatments are available,” said Hyung T. Kim, MD, MBA, president, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. “We are committed to bringing the best possible cancer programs to West Michigan patients and improving access to advanced therapies so patients and families can stay in our region.”

Services will be offered across three facilities in West Michigan, including Lacks Cancer Center at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Johnson Family Cancer Center at Mercy Health Muskegon, and Metro Health, broadening access to a wide range of cancer services across West Michigan. These services will be supported by the outstanding clinicians at each of these facilities, and backed by the expertise of Michigan Medicine’s nationally ranked cancer center.

Combined, the three award-winning West Michigan facilities treat 13,658 cancer patients a year. They bring to the collaboration a combined 63 cancer specialists and subspecialists, along with access to the latest research, treatments and clinical trials.

“Mercy Health has a long-standing, positive reputation for delivering high quality cancer care in West Michigan,” said Gary Allore, president, Mercy Health Muskegon. “We look forward to collaborating across West Michigan to further the fight against cancer.”

The Cancer Network of West Michigan will build on a foundation established by a radiation oncology collaborative already linking radiation oncology services between Michigan Medicine and Metro Health, and between Michigan Medicine and Mercy Health. Extending and integrating this cooperation across the three locations ensures cancer programs continue to grow to meet the needs of West Michigan.

“This collaboration allows us to also provide deep subspecialty capabilities and work towards giving our patients access to research and clinical trials along with the highest quality care and expertise,” said Peter Hahn, MD, MBA, president and CEO of Metro Health – University of Michigan Health. “Any patient who enters any one of our facilities can have confidence his or her doctor has access to the full array of expertise, latest research and newest treatments available.”

Not only does West Michigan lead the state in population growth, but the need for cancer treatment is increasing as the overall population ages. Nearly 40 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Even as new treatments have reduced the mortality rate, the number of new cancer cases continues to increase as the population ages. The Centers for Disease Control predicts the number of new cases will have increased 24 percent between 2010 and 2020.

All hospital providers and staff will remain employed by their respective health systems, and no staff reductions will take place as a result of this agreement. The initiative will enable our providers and staff to collaborate more effectively in the care of patients and to serve the communities of West Michigan.

The Cancer Network also builds on a larger statewide strategy between Michigan Medicine and Trinity Health – Michigan, of which Mercy Health is a part. The two organizations announced an affiliation agreement in 2012, paving the way for closer collaborations in clinical care, research and medical education. In 2018, Trinity Health-owned Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Michigan Medicine developed a joint venture at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea hospital, located in Chelsea, Mich. Trinity-owned Mercy Health and Michigan Medicine also have a professional services agreement in place for cardiovascular services at Mercy Health. In addition, Trinity Health – Michigan and Michigan Medicine work together to enhance clinically integrated network delivery models and in graduate medical education across the state.

Michigan Medicine and Metro Health – University of Michigan Health have been affiliated since 2016.

“We want people to continue to get their cancer care with people and at places they have come to trust. As our collaboration grows, people will notice that they now have access to newer, broader, and deeper resources made possible by the integration across this network,” said Cho.  “We want to build the kind of compassionate expertise that our patients and community deserve.”

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