By By Elaine Sanchez, BAMC Public AffairsJuly 19, 2012
San Antonio Military Medical Center's Cancer Care Program just wrapped up a re-accreditation survey, and already has received glowing remarks for its quality and level of care.
Initial results indicate the program should rank among the top cancer programs in the nation, SAMMC's chief of surgical oncology said.
The Commission on Cancer was "very pleased overall with our program and gave us many compliments," said Col. (Dr.) George Peoples. "The surveyor said our program should be easily accredited."
The CoC, managed by the American College of Surgeons, reviews cancer care programs to ensure they meet the criteria to be CoC accredited. Once accredited, surveyors return every three years to ensure the program is meeting standards.
The survey includes reviewing clinical services; cancer care tumor boards that provide a forum for multi-discipline cancer treatment planning; quality improvement programs; tumor registry and database; research; and how the program is evaluating patient outcomes and improving care.
One of SAMMC's quality assessment programs was to determine outcomes for breast cancer diagnoses, treatment and outcomes compared to the national average. According to Peoples, SAMMC breast cancer patients were diagnosed sooner, were more likely to receive multi-modality therapy, and had better outcomes compared to the patients in the National Cancer Database.
Peoples said SAMMC's program likely excelled in all areas. "It's very likely we'll be accredited with commendation," he said, meaning the program passed or exceeded most standards. Peoples said he's hoping the program exceeded the standards in all areas, a level of excellence only a handful of cancer programs achieve.
SAMMC will receive its final report soon, Peoples said. Commendations aside, accreditation alone is a milestone, he explained, since just under half of the nation's cancer care programs earn this designation.
Peoples said SAMMC's cancer program staff goes the extra mile, not to earn praise, but to ensure they're delivering the "absolute best care to patients."
"The No. 1 health risk for our older population is cancer," he said, "and as a full cancer program, we have to be able to address that need and do it well, while always looking at how we can improve our cancer care."