SAMC and UAB
Cancer patients in this region now have expanded access to leading-edge clinical trials at Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) through an affiliation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham's (UAB) Cancer Care Network.
SAMC is the first and only hospital in the state to be a clinical and research network cancer site affiliated with UAB.
"Our patients will continue to receive the comprehensive quality cancer care offered by SAMC and Southeast Cancer Care Network," said Ronald S. Owen, SAMC Chief Executive Officer. "The clinical affiliation of these two highly respected cancer programs will provide area patients access to an enhanced level of services. The clinical trial and initiatives will be administered at SAMC allowing patients to stay at home rather than traveling to Birmingham."
Breast cancer patient Melinda McClendon said she nearly burst into tears after hearing about the new affiliation. The Dothan native was treated locally by Dr. Steve Stokes, and was referred to UAB where she was part of a clinical trial.
"I had to drive to Birmingham every three weeks and the drive home I was nauseated and emotionally drained," she said. "I thought, 'If I could just go to the Medical Center for this.' This affiliation is the greatest marriage. I almost wore a bridesmaid's dress today.
"This is a big deal, a fantastic deal for cancer patients in this area."
Dr. Ed Partridge, Director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, said he was excited to see the UAB affiliation sign out front of the Southeast Cancer Center Network.
"Our goal is for every patient to receive the highest quality cancer care they can – with that care delivered right at home if possible. We've had our eyes on the Medical Center for a long time. I knew Dr. Steve Stokes was here and I knew the quality of care that was here. We wanted you to be an institution of affiliation."
SAMC's cancer center is nationally recognized by the Commission on Cancer (CoC) and provides compassionate, attentive care for more than 800 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year as well as recurrent patients with ongoing treatment needs. An experienced team of board certified physician specialists and oncology professionals provides an array of state-of-the-art cancer diagnosis and treatment options to meet the wide ranging needs of cancer patients.
Only one in four hospitals nationally that treat cancer patients receives CoC approval. Recognition is given only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to provide the best in diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The affiliation with UAB will allow SAMC to collaborate with UAB Cancer Care Network to jointly pursue high-quality patient outcomes, improved access to early detection and treatment, and enhanced patient satisfaction.
Research site affiliation is a process that begins with a readiness assessment of SAMC's oncology services' preparedness for administering clinical trials. The readiness assessment will ensure the integrity of the quality standards related to the specifications of the scientific guidelines defined in the clinical trials. The readiness assessment will be performed by UAB and the certification to conduct clinical trials will be administered by a third-party governing agency.
Once the readiness assessment is successfully completed, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center will work closely with SAMC to support its cancer program's growth by providing access to UAB's best practices in cancer care, access to clinical trials and support services, physician and nursing education and access to research expertise and resources.
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Alabama and the Deep South and one of only 40 in the nation. The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the internationally recognized provider of oncology clinical guidelines, standards and protocols.
Sweet Tea Event a Smash Hit
ACOM Open House
It started with a vision – to address Alabama's shortage of primary care physicians by establishing a third medical college and the state's first college of osteopathic medicine. That vision has become a reality with the July 29 opening of the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM).
ACOM is also the only osteopathic medical school in the nation constructed and affiliated with a regional not-for-profit medical center.
An academic division of Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC), ACOM offers a comprehensive four-year postgraduate medical education program. ACOM becomes the state's third medical school, joining the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham and the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile.
The 162 students that make up ACOM's inaugural group come from across the U.S. and will begin classes on August 5.
The fundamental principles of osteopathic medicine stress that the body is a unit and the person is a unity of body, mind and spirit. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing and health maintenance. Structure and function are interrelated. Based on these principles, DOs receive 200 hours of training in diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal complaints.
The Houston County Health Care Authority board, which operates SAMC, had the foresight to seriously consider founding a college as a solution to the state's physician shortage, with discussions starting as early as 2001.
Paramount to ACOM's start was the creation of a physician pipeline by the Alabama Medical Education Consortium (AMEC), established in 2005 to address these current and future physician shortages. AMEC set up clinical sites for third and fourth year osteopathic medical students at facilities across the state, including at SAMC.
Gov. Robert Bentley, who is also a retired dermatologist, has been a part of this effort, and thus the founding of ACOM. He was one of more than 500 local, state and regional dignitaries to attend a January 2012 groundbreaking for the college.
"The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine is important because it will increase the number of physicians in Alabama," Bentley said. "I have been privileged to be a part of the Alabama Medical Education Consortium since 2004. So many people have contributed to the growth of the medical college, and I'm proud to have played a role in the original vision of this school. I'm proud of what's being accomplished, not just for the physicians and students involved, but also for the residents of southeast Alabama."
There is overwhelming data indicating that physicians tend to practice close to where they received their medical training and education. Also, students in osteopathic medical school are more likely to enter the primary care practices of family medicine, internal medicine, OB/GYN and pediatrics.
ACOM is a 110,000-square-foot, three-story facility, located less than two miles east of the SAMC campus, is a 21st Century learning institution with state-of-the art integrated technology, an electronic library and laboratories with high-definition cameras for the most detailed viewing as displayed on video monitors. The technology creates a productive learning and working environment.
"The opening of the college is truly a historic event that will pave the way for ensuring the delivery of world class healthcare while continuing to spur economic opportunities for many generations to come," said Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Parker.
According to a Chamber of Commerce commissioned study by the national research firm of Tripp Umbach, ACOM is expected to have a total economic impact of $169 million by 2020. Nearly 2,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created by 2030 with total tax revenues at about $13 million.
"Jobs are great, but that is not the big, big thing," said Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver. "There is great value in the opportunity to promote the college as something else Dothan and Houston County have to offer. We have all these great healthcare, recreational facilities, retail, restaurants, two colleges and now a medical school. It gives us a lot of credibility.
"There is so much more opportunity that can take place because of the medical college," Culver said. "While the immediate economic impact is great, my excitement is for the long-term benefit to our community."
On-campus housing is a feature that sets ACOM apart from many other medical schools. ACOM partnered with Picerne Military Housing which has a new division called Corvias Campus Living that specializes in on-campus student housing. Summerfield Square is a 72-unit apartment community with many comfortable amenities.
Click here for more information on the ACOM Open House.