Alizah Diamond, General Counsel for Regional Cancer Care Associates, the New Jersey-based and physician-owned specialized health care provider, has helped the young organization accomplish an ambitious agenda.
But Diamond, who continues to function as a one-woman legal team playing a major role in RCCA’s complicated expansion endeavors in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions, admits that “this job found me. I wasn’t looking for it, and I wasn’t a health care attorney. But (Terrill Jordan) told me, ‘You come from an oncology family and have a fundamental understanding of what we are trying to accomplish.’”
Jordan, RCCA’s only in-house lawyer, was promoted in 2017 to president and CEO, and a search began to find his replacement. The ideal candidate would not only be versed in legal matters and corporate transactions, but also oncology and hematology.
With more than 125 physicians and hundreds of other health care professionals practicing at more than 31 locations throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Washington DC area RCCA, founded in 2012, provides leading-edge, individualized and highly compassionate care for cancer and blood disorders.
A Family Tradition
Family tradition and considerable experience helped Diamond qualify for her prominent RCCA position: Both Diamond’s brother and father are oncologists.
Her father is Dr. Richard M. Diamond. She refers to him as the last solo practicing physician of his kind and an oncologist stalwart in Cornwell, N.Y., with patients who include veterans and West Point personnel. Her brother, Elan Diamond, is Chief of Outpatient Cancer Care at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J.
Alizah Diamond picked up much cancer knowledge throughout her upbringing. Today, father and brother on occasion seek her pro bono advice on compliance matters and related issues, but they’ll return the favor when she needs a physician’s insight.
Diamond also leaned toward medicine as a John Hopkins University undergrad. But ultimately, her path led to Georgetown University Law Center. After earning her law degree in 2005, Diamond practiced litigation and labor and employment law with Hodes, Ulman, Pessin & Katz for almost two years, then served a similar role at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP from 2007 to 2016.
An Updated Business Model
After 11 years of litigation and corporate law at a couple of firms, Diamond was welcomed aboard at RCCA and given an extensive to-do list with an August deadline.
If RCCA was to become one of the nation’s largest independently owned cancer care networks, it would have to update its business model. That had Diamond restructuring the association into four segments:
- The original RCCA in Hackensack, N.J.
- RCCA MD, to accommodate the association’s 2015 expansion into Maryland.
- RCCA MSO, a management services entity.
- RCCA Holdings Co., to retain certain assets.
Diamond, with assistance from the Philadelphia firm of Fox Rothschild LLP, beat the deadline, completing possibly the most detail-intense project of her career.
“When I got here, we were one company, but each of those segments meant creating a new company,” she told The Vanguard Group. “That was a lot of moving parts having to go in the right direction at the right time, and being part of a small management team, I had to get my hands dirty and wear a lot of hats.”
The compliance aspect of health care regulations seemed all-consuming. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) employment law and data privacy were just some of the matters to be addressed, and as RCCA extended into a new jurisdiction, it would be met by a new set of rules. New tax IDs had to be secured for all entities. Contracts with dozens of insurance companies needed revisions, and new governance documents had to be drawn.
Managing Mergers and Acquisitions
RCCA’s work force was growing, employees would be shifted into one of the four segments and each segment would need its own plan for cash flow, accounting and billing.
Then in 2017, Diamond would oversee the acquisition of six Connecticut-based cancer specialists, giving RCCA a presence in West Hartford and Manchester and the doctors’ affiliations at three hospitals. That would be followed by the addition of five doctors’ associations in New York and, early last year, a partnership with Princeton Radiation Oncology (PRO) that marked RCCA’s first acquisition of a free-standing facility.
RCCA’s specialty being medical oncology and PRO noted for radiation oncology, a seamless and comprehensive system of cancer care is now available at 12 locations throughout the Garden State, Diamond says. RCCA also having hospital-based contracts in Pennsylvania and at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, its presence just expands along the East Coast and Diamond anticipates the growth will continue.
“I would like to think we’ll keep expanding, even become the biggest independent network in the country,” she says. “And while there are pros and cons about being in-house, I prefer it because it lets me focus on the legal and business aspects.”
Applying Her Skills in the Community
Though she’ll never fight cancer from the clinical side, Diamond battles the disease not just as RCCA’s general counsel but through her extracurricular activities.
A married mother of two small children, she is the secretary of SHARE, a self-help nonprofit that assists those afflicted by breast and ovarian cancer, and a board member of Care Plus NJ, which reaches out to people suffering from mental problems and substance abuse. Both causes entail going into under-served communities.
Seems ironic, Diamond says, how this one-time pre-med student wound up applying her skills for a growing oncology and hematology network that now includes over 125 doctors, 1,000 employees and 31 locations. The word “fate” also pops up in her conversations.
“At any rate, I’m glad the job found me,” she says.