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December 18, 2013

Karmanos, McLaren join forces in fight against cancer

By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer

MICHIGAN — There are many things Michigan is known for: the Great Lakes, its stellar professional and college sports programs, and its countless picturesque destinations are just a few.

Now, the state has the largest cancer research and provider network.

A recently made agreement between the nationally renowned Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and McLaren Health Care is bringing the highest level of cancer care to Detroit and across Michigan, which will ultimately increase survival rates.

“This is tremendous news for Karmanos Cancer Institute, its patients and the thousands of individuals and families impacted by cancer in Michigan,” said Gerold Bepler, Karmanos president and chief executive officer. “By joining forces with McLaren, this agreement strengthens our ability to provide exceptional cancer care and furthers our commitment to cancer research based right here in Detroit.”

The agreement is expected to be effective within several weeks after the boards of both organizations have reviewed and amended their governing documents, officials said. Under the terms of the agreement, McLaren will provide a capital investment over a multi-year period to assist with capital upgrades at Karmanos facilities and to fund clinical trials, basic and translational research programs.

Justin Klamerus, president and medical director of the McLaren Cancer Institute, said during a media event to unveil the agreement on Dec. 10 that it allows more cancer patients to get better life-saving care.

“The thing that we’re all excited about is providing that care so close to home,” he said. McLaren has 13 locations in Michigan, including Mount Clemens, Flint and Fenton.

The Karmanos Cancer Institute will become a member of the nonprofit McLaren Health Care system. Both Karmanos Cancer Institute and Karmanos Cancer Center, which provides clinical care to patients, will retain their names and remain as separate legal entities, maintaining their assets and reporting to their existing respective boards of directors.

Bepler will continue as the president and chief executive officer of the Cancer Institute and Cancer Center, and Karmanos employees will remain employed by Karmanos. And Karmanos physicians, nurses and other health care providers will remain at its anchor location in Detroit, and at their Farmington Hills and Monroe locations.

Other benefits of the agreement include the following:

• Improved patient experience.

• Stronger clinical integration.

• Enhanced clinical trial accrual with advanced access to novel treatments through Phase I and Phase II trials.

• Joint sharing of medical expertise and quality improvements between physicians and cancer researchers.

• Opportunity to expand and enhance medical education/research programs.

• Capital investment for research, education and patient care.

• Ability to develop and pilot new models of cancer care.

• Enhanced ability to recruit and retain oncology specialists and researchers.

• Stronger operations and management expertise when combined.

“Since our inception, the Karmanos Cancer Institute has been committed to providing world-class cancer research, education and prevention, and patient care,” said Bepler. “As a result, statistics show that our patients have better survival rates. This agreement gives us the opportunity to extend our reach to give more people a better chance at surviving this disease.”

“This truly integrated model not only allows us to impact more cancer patients across Michigan, it also strengthens our efforts right here at our main campus in Detroit. This ultimately helps Karmanos achieve its mission of preventing, detecting and eventually eradicating cancer. In short, we’re going to save more lives.”

In the months ahead, Karmanos Cancer Institute will work to integrate and further develop its clinical service offerings and broaden its depth of academic and research services to complement and strengthen McLaren’s cancer care delivery network in the communities it serves. The McLaren Cancer Institute will be known as the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, and McLaren’s cancer clinical trials program (operated as part of the McLaren Clinical Trials Management Program) will be merged into a single Karmanos Cancer Institute Clinical Trials Office.

“McLaren has worked hard to develop Michigan’s largest network of cancer centers and providers, and in looking for ways to strengthen cancer care across our communities, we looked to the leader: Karmanos,” said Philip Incarnati, president and chief executive officer, McLaren Health Care Corporation. “The Karmanos Cancer Institute has an outstanding reputation for cancer research, providing advanced therapies and unmatched patient care. This new relationship will transform the way new cancer fighting therapies and treatments reach more patients in communities across Michigan. We believe this will become a national model for the delivery of exceptional patient-centered, high-quality, evidence-based and cost-efficient cancer care.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Julie Snyder at jsnyder@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1039.