Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey announced its partnership with University Hospital in Newark that results in an expansion of cancer services in Essex County.
The partnership will ensure access to more cancer treatments, including clinical trials only available at National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, like Rutgers.
Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers University Biomedical and Health Sciences, said the expansion brings services that exist in New Brunswick up to the Newark campus and its surrounding community.
The goal, as with every other expansion of cancer services in the state, is to ensure residents of the community don’t have to trek to New York to receive care, Strom said.
“Right now, people here who can pay go elsewhere,” Strom said. “Now, they can come here; it’s beneficial financially for the hospital.”
The announcement Tuesday was led by Gov. Chris Christie, University Hospital CEO John Kastanis, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) and Rutgers President Robert Barchi, among other Rutgers and medical executives and professionals.
The focus on Essex is necessary, they said, since it has some of the highest cancer death rates in the state.
Strom explained the disparities have a lot to do with a late detection, and the goal of the new center is to help create more awareness and increase screenings. He added that access to clinical trials and treatments that are customized to different populations will be good for Newark.
“The changing health care environment requires that a more progressive approach be taken to provide access to the most advanced treatment options for the greater Newark community and all of northern New Jersey. We are pleased that this partnership will address this significant need,” Kastanis said.
The interim director of the new program, Susan Goodin, said the biggest challenge in Newark is gaining the trust of the community. Which is why partnering with University Hospital, which already has a good relationship, makes sense for Rutgers.
The new partnership will result in increased screening, treatment and education with a special focus on underserved populations, according to a statement from Rutgers.
“As an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey has the expertise to offer the latest treatment options and clinical trials as well as opportunities to reduce cancer incidence and improve patient outcomes. Residents in the greater Newark area have a unique need for the most rigorous education, research and best care available, and this new partnership between Rutgers Cancer Institute and University Hospital will result in additional care options,” said Bruce Haffty, interim director of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and professor and chair of radiation oncology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School.
The new home for the program, on the campus of Rutgers-Newark, will be the new office for a number of professionals currently in New Brunswick, Strom said, adding that hiring for positions in Newark is now a priority.
Christie touted state efforts in recent years to revamp the medical department at Rutgers.
“The fact is, what we did here with the restructuring of our higher education system, is something that could not have been accomplished without the partnership of Speaker Oliver and Senate President Steve Sweeney,” Christie said. “This was a difficult thing to do. Other governors have tried it before … and failed.”
He called the restructuring one of the greatest legacies of this time and said it will have a lasting impact on the entire state.
Cancer care has been expanding across the state as more health systems recognize its prevalence, as well as the profitability of such a large sector of business.