Cancer center gets key designation
National accreditation buoys Enloe Medical Center’s expansion for oncology services
>> Enloe Medical Center got a boost for its plan to expand oncology services with national recognition for its cancer center.
The hospital announced that the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer accredited the Enloe Regional Cancer Center for three years. The accreditation certifies adherence to standards of care in 34 areas, and Enloe is the only designee within 100 miles of Chico.
Accreditation has come as Enloe prepares to build a new facility for cancer care at Meriam Park, across the city from the current location on Cohasset Road near The Esplanade.
“The opportunity to participate (in accreditation) is pretty awesome, because it means we’re meeting those high standards that allows us to provide that excellent care to our patients,” said Dr. Keith Cavaness, a surgical oncologist who chairs Enloe’s Cancer Committee. “That plays into us moving into the new cancer center with this accredited designation and use that to help develop the specialties that we could offer patients and the services that we could offer patients.”
Enloe started the process pre-pandemic but only applied for accreditation a year ago. Already, Cavaness said, the program is reaping benefits in terms of attracting specialist physicians to Chico. Progress toward the designation encouraged him to come; Enloe also has attracted colorectal surgeons and is recruiting urologists, among others, who focus on cancer care.
“There’s a lot of patients in our community and north of us who have trouble be able to meet with specialists,” Cavaness said, “because the farther you get out into the rural areas, you don’t have those specialists available. This (accreditation) will just help us continue to grow to help all these patients in Northern California as well as the (local) physicians who struggle to get these patients in to see a specialist.
“Patients don’t like to have to drive to different cities — it’s super intimidating, it’s expensive, it’s very difficult to coordinate care and time off work. This is something we could do closer to home to really make a difference.”
The new facility should help, too. It will span 100,000 square feet on 13 acres at East 20th Street and Bruce Road. Enloe has hired firms to develop plans, due next month, that will set specifics including cost. The early estimate is $100 million to $120 million.
Enloe’s foundation has raised $11.5 million in 15 months, toward a goal of $20 million, and has sold bonds that not only will cover this project but also expansion of medical services to West East Avenue.
“The designation recognizes the work that has already been done in our cancer center, even under some challenging conditions,” said Jolene Francis, Enloe vice president of philanthropy and communications, referring to related issues of space constraints and recruiting. “I think in the bigger picture the designation is remarkable and wonderful that we achieved that, and it will mean even more when we can expand that service and care for more people from our region.”