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The AIS Cancer Center at SJCH Partner with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center


Residents of Kern County, where cancer rates overall are higher than the state average, will now have access to the expertise and experience of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers and clinicians through a new hospital affiliation.

Officials from San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH) and UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center announced the new partnership at a media event this morning in Bakersfield. The hospital’s affiliation links SJCH’s new AIS Cancer Center with UC Davis through the university health system’s innovative Cancer Care Network.

"For more than 100 years, San Joaquin Community Hospital has served our community through the formation of innovative health care programs and facilities,” said SJCH President and CEO Robert J. Beehler. “Our goal is to continue this mission at The AIS Cancer Center by blending the latest technology with compassionate care, delivered by skilled doctors and clinicians.”

The UC Davis Cancer Care Network, which includes community cancer centers in Truckee, Merced and Marysville, extends the reach of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center expertise to patients in rural areas of Central and Northern California. The partnership with SJCH represents the network’s first affiliation with Adventist Health, a faith-based, non-for-profit health-care delivery system.

“The Adventist Health organization believes in health promotion and healthy communities,” said Scott Christensen, a professor of hematology and oncology and medical director of the UC Davis Cancer Care Network. “We are incredibly excited to partner with a very dynamic and growing organization that has clearly committed time and energy and considerable resources to developing a state-of-the-art cancer program.”

Cancer Care Network affiliates utilize broadband telemedicine technology, which allows teams of specialists from member cancer centers to meet weekly via “virtual tumor boards” to share medical information and discuss individual patient treatment plans, including participation in available clinical trials. In most cases, patients can continue to get their cancer care close to home, but may be referred for specialty care or clinical trials, when necessary, at UC Davis.

Currently, nearly 20 percent of cancer patients in Kern County leave the area for treatment, often traveling as far as Los Angeles for access to expert care. According to California Cancer Registry data, Kern County has significantly higher lung cancer incidence and death rates for both men and women than the rest of the state. Kern also has a higher rate of colon and rectal cancer among men and a significantly higher rate of death among men with prostate cancer. In addition, in a county where 47 percent of the population is Hispanic, the cancer rate for Hispanic women is nearly three times that of women in California overall. Beehler anticipates that the Cancer Care Network affiliation will help alleviate these disparities.

“By partnering with UC Davis, we will have access to clinical trials and the ability for our doctors to review cases with specialists based at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center,” he said. “It's our belief that this affiliation with help raise the level of cancer treatment in Bakersfield and Kern County."