Cancer Institute Joins with Wyoming Medical Center

In what may be the first of several partnerships between the Huntsman Cancer Institute and regional hospitals, St. John’s Medical Center at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has agreed to refer all its cancer patients to the Salt Lake City institute.

In exchange, St. John’s will have access to a number of cancer institute resources, including consultation and outreach programs. A cancer institute physician will also serve two days per month at St. John’s.

The new partnership furthers the relationship between the two organizations. St. John’s has referred 60 to 70 percent of its cancer patients to the cancer institute in the past, according to Karen Connelly, spokeswoman for St. John’s. She estimates the figure will be 80 to 90 percent in the future.

St. John’s has no staff physicians of its own. Clinicians from local communities use St. John’s facilities to treat their patients and have often referred them to the cancer institute for further treatment because of its vicinity and expertise.

“The Huntsman Cancer Institute has been a great blessing for us because of the distance,” Connelly said.

The physicians will have no obligation to refer their patients to the cancer institute, but Connelly predicts the increased exposure resulting from the partnership should increase referrals.

“To me, its’s not so much about how many patients are referred,” Connelly said. “It’s about creating superior care. Because the care is exceptional, referrals will follow.”

Dr. Stephen Prescott, executive director of the cancer institute, has recently hinted at the establishment of new partnerships. In his “State of the Huntsman Cancer Institute” address Wednesday, Prescott said partnerships are “essential” to the cancer institute.

“We can’t do it all here,” Prescott said. “To make sure the patients would have the best care,” the cancer institute will need to work with other University of Utah departments and community hospitals.

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