Regional Cancer Care Associates, LLC (RCCA) is ensuring that people with cancer — whether they are already patients of RCCA or not — can receive care at one of RCCA’s 31 locations in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Washington, DC area during the coronavirus crisis.
“This pandemic has besieged the American healthcare system, not only straining the capacity of emergency departments and intensive care units, but also preventing many people with other serious illnesses from receiving vital care. In response to this situation, RCCA has made a commitment to provide care not only to its long-established patients, but also to those recently diagnosed with cancer who need to begin treatment, and – if necessary during this period — to people who have been receiving care at hospitals or other facilities that are now difficult or impossible for them to access,” said Denis Fitzgerald, MD, who serves as Board Chairperson of RCCA, one of the nation’s largest networks of oncology specialists.
“Many patients recently diagnosed with cancer cannot easily get in to see their specialists at major hospitals in New York, Philadelphia, or elsewhere. Our community-based offices are able to see these patients near their homes, and we have a long track record of effectively communicating and collaborating with colleagues elsewhere as we initiate care or provide continuation of care. Further, our RCCA oncology and hematology specialists at the John Theurer Cancer Center of Hackensack University Medical Center continue to provide a full-range of sophisticated services, including transplant care and CAR-T cell therapy,” noted Iuliana Shapira, MD, a board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist who serves as RCCA’s Chief Medical Officer.
Patients who would like to make an appointment to receive care from RCCA can email
Dr. Shapira at ChiefMedical@regionalcancercare.org.
Dr. Shapira added that as an organization dedicated to providing cancer care in community-based clinics, RCCA has extensive operational expertise in protecting patient health. “All we do is cancer and hematologic care. The only patients we see are those with cancer or hematologic conditions, and our offices and processes are designed with those people’s specific needs in mind. Much of what we do to enhance the patient experience is readily apparent, such as the convenience of being able to park just outside the front door of a community clinic, be greeted by a receptionist who knows you, and quickly be taken to an exam room. But a significant portion of our patient-focused approach goes on ‘behind the scenes,’ such as the rigorous processes we employ for regularly sanitizing every room, space and piece of medical equipment in our offices,” she said.
Adapting to coronavirus: What has changed at RCCA – and what hasn’t?
Dr. Fitzgerald noted that beyond providing expanded access to area cancer patients, RCCA has taken several other steps in response to the coronavirus, including:
- Offering telehealth visits whenever possible, employing easily used and widely available technology to enable patients to talk with their physician or nurse virtually. Patients should call their local RCCA office for more information about scheduling a telehealth visit.
- Adjusting patient in-office visits and staffing schedules to minimize the number of people in the office at any one time and to allow for adequate social distancing.
- Intensifying RCCA’s already thorough cleaning and sanitization processes.
- Screening patients for signs and symptoms of coronavirus by telephone prior to their in-office appointments, and screening them again at the front door before they enter the office for their appointments.
Beyond those steps, Dr. Fitzgerald said, it is important for patients – and all people – to follow the general guidelines put forth by the CDC, which include social distancing, washing hands, using sanitizer when soap and water are not available, and promptly reporting new symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath to their physician.
“We will continue to adjust as needed during the coronavirus outbreak to protect patients, their families, and our staff,” said Dr. Fitzgerald, a board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist practicing in RCCA’s Little Silver, NJ office. He added, “While it’s important to change approaches in step with evolving circumstances, one thing that won’t change is our commitment to providing patients with the care they need. RCCA’s doctors, nurses, and other team members are here for people with cancer, whether you’ve just been diagnosed, are in the midst of treatment, or have completed active treatment and have a question or need follow-up care. Oncologists devote their careers to seeing people with cancer through the worst of times, and – together – we’ll get through this trying time, as well.”
With more than 80 cancer specialists practicing at more than 20 care centers located throughout Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and the Washington, DC area, RCCA provides care to roughly 22,000 new cancer patients and 225,000 established patients each year. RCCA offers those patients immunotherapy, targeted treatment, cell-based therapy and other cutting-edge treatments and diagnostic modalities, as well as access to clinical trials. RCCA is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM), a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.