Hollywood-based Memorial Healthcare System has announced a valuable new alliance with Tampa-based Moffitt Cancer Center, bringing leading-edge treatment and research for blood cancers to patients in South Florida. The new affiliation means that South Florida patients will no longer have to travel to Tampa to receive advanced care for certain treatments. The two healthcare heavyweights recently celebrated the collaboration and its first specialized bone marrow transplant with a ribbon-cutting event at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines.
The alliance established Moffitt Malignant Hematology & Cellular Therapy, a comprehensive blood and marrow transplant and cellular therapy program, with Moffitt’s physicians practicing at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines. It also brings the renowned cancer center’s access to research, clinical trials, and model of care to local leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma patients. It is the first time Moffitt has expanded beyond its roots in the Tampa Bay area.
The partnership with Memorial, one of the nation’s largest public healthcare systems, is already paying dividends just months after it was finalized, with local leukemia patient Melvin Feliciano being the unit’s first beneficiary. Feliciano received a haploidentical allogenic bone marrow transplant, enabling him to receive healthy stem cells from his brother, a genetically similar, but not identical, donor.
“We’re changing the way blood cancers are being treated in South Florida by bringing all of our considerable resources to the region,” said Hugo Fernandez, MD chair and medical director of the new program. “There are many advantages to patients being treated close to home, including access to family and friends, and less travel and expense.”
In addition to Dr. Fernandez, Moffitt-employed hematologist/oncologists at Memorial include Marco A. Ruiz, MD, Yehuda E. Deutsch, MD and Jose Sandoval-Sus, MD. Advanced registered nurse practitioners from Moffitt also staff the unit, which will provide services of blood and marrow transplant and malignant hematology as well as those related to molecular diagnostics, personalized medicine and hematopathology. Rounding out the Moffitt team are Memorial Hospital West care team members including pharmacists, nurses, social workers and case managers.
A shared culture that focuses on patient and family-centered care has also been a key to the early success of the venture, a point that was emphasized at the recent ribbon-cutting event. Dignitaries present at the ceremony were members of Florida’s House of Representatives and leaders from both Moffitt and Memorial. Speakers included former Speaker of the House H. Lee Moffitt, Representative Jose R. Oliva, Moffitt CEO and President Alan F. List and Aurelio M. Fernandez III, FACHE, president and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System.