Ochsner Health leads the way in cancer care in Louisiana with sophisticated treatment plans | Sponsored by: Ochsner Health
A diagnosis of cancer frightens patients and their loved ones. But at Ochsner Health, doctors, nurses and support staff help guide families through a personalized care plan while keeping them close to home.
In Baton Rouge, Ochsner has two cancer centers, one at its O’Neal campus off I-12 and a second at Ochsner Medical Complex – The Grove off I-10 near Mall Louisiana , and sees cancer patients at his Prairieville health center. However, Ochsner’s extensive network of physicians and facilities means patients can work with cancer specialists in every region of the state.
“We treat all types of cancers and, thanks to the depth of our organization, we treat patients with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery and bone marrow transplants. We also have a very strong pediatric cancer program,” said Dr. Jay Brooks, chair of Ochsner’s hematology/oncology department and chief of staff at Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge.
“Most people don’t think about the level of care they need until they’ve been diagnosed with cancer, but there are so many other things patients need besides an oncologist and maybe from a cancer specialist,” Brooks added. “We are fortunate to have cancer surgery specialists who include colorectal, urological, thoracic, gynecological, surgical oncology, bone marrow transplant, breast cancer, ENT and Mohs skin cancer.”
Ochsner also offers cancer patient support services to address nutritional needs, pain management, emotional needs, cardiology, palliative care and more. With a suspected cancer diagnosis, time is crucial for rapid access to new patients – which Ochsner has – and the ability to receive additional connected services.
“Cancer not only affects the person, but the whole family and support system,” Brooks said. “When a person comes to see us, we ask them to answer questions to focus on what they need from us. This could be financial support, transportation, spiritual support or something else. to change their diet during their treatment and remission to decrease their risk of cancer recurrence We offer coordinated care that results in accelerated treatment.”
Brooks said a critical aspect of cancer care at Ochsner is ensuring that all team members communicate regularly with each other and with the patient. With sophisticated electronic medical records, all members of a patient’s care team see the same notes, test results, and observations, which means treatment is seamless and organized.
“We are very fortunate to have a coordinated approach to caring for patients,” Brooks said. “Our use of Epic’s medical records has really been a game-changer. Patients can be treated by different specialists very quickly and without delay. There is no need to run across town asking for copies of your medical records to the next appointment because we already have them. That’s the beauty of being on such a sophisticated system.
Ochsner’s use of technology means that many visits are conducted virtually or via video calls, reducing patient travel time and allowing parents from different locations to join. Ochsner patients can also access a program called the Chemotherapy Care Companion which includes a digital thermometer, scale and blood pressure monitor. Vital signs are transmitted daily from the patient’s home. If the data is outside an acceptable range, the healthcare team receives automatic alerts for review.
Additionally, Ochsner has access to more clinical trials than any other health system in Louisiana. Once a patient’s information is in the electronic system, Ochsner nurses and researchers can see if that patient qualifies for a research trial.
Brooks said the same data is helping doctors at Ochsner use precision medicine on cancer patients. Doctors analyze a patient’s genetics and tumor makeup to identify potential targeted therapies using this method.
“It’s something we wouldn’t normally do 20 years ago, but now it’s something we do throughout our system,” Brooks said. “We do research to understand the genetics of why people get cancer.”
Brooks said no matter the type of cancer or treatment plan, Ochsner’s team approach and depth of experience sets him apart. Doctors from across the system meet regularly to review patient information before starting treatment.
“I think when someone comes to Ochsner they are going to have many people available to review their disease and make a recommendation based on extensive training and expertise,” he said. “Together, we work as a system to make the best possible recommendations for patients.”
To learn more about Ochsner Health’s cancer services, visit www.ochsner.org/services/cancer-care.