The Commission on Cancer (CoC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), has granted Three-Year Accreditation to the cancer program at the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University. To earn voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet 34 CoC quality care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process, and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care.
“AU Health relies on collaboration throughout the Augusta University enterprise to provide the highest level of care for our patients both inside and outside the walls of the hospital,” said AU Health CEO Katrina Keefer. “This accreditation reflects the expertise and dedication of Dr. Jorges Cortes and the Georgia Cancer Center caregivers who draw on capabilities across disciplines to provide excellent care to all patients that walk through our doors.”
Because it is a CoC-accredited cancer center, the Georgia Cancer Center takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary partnership results in improved patient care.
“This accreditation is a testament to every person making an impact on our patients and the experiences they have when they walk through our doors for their appointments, infusions, radiation, etc.,” said Dr. Jorge Cortes, director of the Georgia Cancer Center. “I am particularly grateful to our patients who trust us with their care and who teach us so much with their strength as they fight cancer. This accreditation announcement reflects all of the passion and commitment to quality care shown by every member of our Georgia Cancer Center team involved in every facet of a patient’s journey.”
The CoC Accreditation Program provides the framework for the Georgia Cancer Center to improve its quality of patient care through various cancer-related programs that focus on the full spectrum of cancer care including prevention, early diagnosis, cancer staging, optimal treatment, rehabilitation, life-long follow-up for recurrent disease, and end-of-life care. When patients receive care at a CoC facility, they also have access to information on clinical trials and new treatments, genetic counseling, and patient-centered services including psycho-social support, a patient navigation process, and a survivorship care plan that documents the care each patient receives and seeks to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.
“This is the best possible outcome; most accredited programs have their accreditation placed with contingencies placed on meeting standards,” said Dr. Jim Kruse, section chief of the Department of Surgical Oncology at Augusta University Health and director of the Georgia Cancer Center’s CoC Committee. “The reviewer found that we met or exceeded the quality standards set forth in every single category. This is a remarkable achievement for our entire program and notes the commitment of our cancer committee members to providing the best quality care for our patients.”
Like all CoC-accredited facilities, the Georgia Cancer Center maintains a cancer registry and contributes data to the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), a joint program of the CoC and American Cancer Society. This nationwide oncology outcomes database is the largest clinical disease registry in the world. Data on all types of cancer are tracked and analyzed through the NCDB and used to explore trends in cancer care. CoC-accredited cancer centers, in turn, have access to information derived from this type of data analysis, which is used to create national, regional, and state benchmark reports. These reports help CoC facilities with their quality improvement efforts.