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Temple University Taking Over Fox Chase

Rosenthal, Eric T. Special Correspondent

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000411539.49854.47
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Two cancer centers have come closer to achieving the coveted NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center status via the new mechanism of consolidation.

Temple University Health System (TUHS) and Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) have signed an affiliation agreement that will merge NCI-designated Fox Chase into the Temple fold as early as this summer pending regulatory and financial approvals.

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And just two weeks before that agreement, Nevada Cancer Institute (NVCI) announced it had agreed to sell its outpatient cancer treatment facility, its operations, and other personal property to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Health System—which includes the NCI-designated Moores Cancer Center—as part of a negotiated restructuring that is expected to reduce its debt by more than $50 million (OT, 1/10/12).

“Both deals illustrate the difficulty of creating or maintaining a freestanding comprehensive cancer center unaffiliated with a major academic medical entity, but with the major difference that NVCI had unrealistic dreams about building an NCI-designated center from scratch, and FCCC felt it could sustain its silo comprehensive status within a complex research and health care environment that thrives on teamwork, collaboration, and sustainable referrals.”

Both deals illustrate the difficulty of creating or maintaining a freestanding comprehensive cancer center unaffiliated with a major academic medical entity, but with the major difference that NVCI had unrealistic dreams about building an NCI-designated center from scratch, and FCCC felt it could sustain its silo comprehensive status within a complex research and health care environment that thrives on teamwork, collaboration, and sustainable referrals.

Other so-called freestanding cancer centers such as Memorial-Sloan Kettering, MD Anderson, Dana-Farber, Fred Hutchinson, and Roswell Park all have had strong academic institutional or governmental affiliations providing them with resources beyond the confines of their respective campuses. Others like City of Hope and St. Jude have had a narrower therapeutic focus and ongoing national fundraising campaigns.

The Temple-Fox Chase merger will most likely strengthen both Philadelphia institutions, which have been facing financial difficulties.

It will also alleviate Fox Chase's space limitations since Jeanes Hospital, which has been part of TUHS since 1996, shares its campus with FCCC in northeast Philadelphia, and will allow for the expansion that has eluded the cancer center for the last several years.

At various times over the years, Jeanes and Fox Chase have shared certain resources—and are literally connected by a bridge—and the new relationship between both institutions should finally make moot the long-standing potential patient, public confusion about their once separate identities when they all come under the Temple umbrella.

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Fox Chase Expected to Keep Name

Details about administrative, medical, and scientific changes were not announced, although Fox Chase is supposed to keep its name.

Philadelphia is also home to another NCI comprehensive cancer, the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center, as well as a clinical center at Thomas Jefferson University's Kimmel Cancer Center and a basic research center at the Wistar Institute.

Ironically, Penn and Fox Chase originally gained their NCI-comprehensive status as a joint entity.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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