UPMC partners to develop cancer center in Colombia
April 30, 2015 in Medical Technology
In what UPMC executives call a significant expansion of its long-time partnership in Colombia, they announced today a 10-year agreement with the Fundación Cardiovascular de Colombia – FCV – in Bucaramanga to develop and co-manage an oncology center for adults and children. It will be the first private cancer program in Colombia.
The new Oncology Institute at the Hospital International de Colombia is expected to open in 2016 in the city of Piedecuesta, to serve an unmet need in the region for advanced oncology services. Currently, patients must travel hundreds of miles to receive cancer care in other regions of Latin America.
Colombia will see nearly 80,000 new cases of cancer this year, according to UPMC officials. It is a number expected to grow to 113,000 cases annually over the next 10 years.
By providing access to UPMC’s clinical and operational processes, “the FCV aims to better serve patients both within Colombia and throughout Latin America,” said Victor Castillo, MD, chairman of the FCV, in a press statement. “This agreement builds on our successful six-year relationship in cardiology with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.”
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Children’s partnered with the FCV in 2009 to develop a heart center to treat pediatric congenital and vascular diseases. Children’s provides the FCV with advanced medical expertise and technologies, including remote monitoring of pediatric intensive care unit patients and telemedicine rounds for heart transplant, cardiac catheterization and cardiac surgery.
The proposed oncology center, to be financed by the FCV, will include chemotherapy and radiotherapy services, as well as a bone marrow transplant unit. It will also house a palliative care program, counseling and nutrition services and a pain management program.
“As part of UPMC’s first integrated project involving staff from Children’s, UPMC CancerCenter and UPMC’s International Services Division, our partnership with the FCV will offer cancer patients in Colombia the highest quality care close to home,” Ricardo Muñoz, MD, chief, cardiac intensive care division, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, said in a news release. “By collaborating with the FCV,” he added, “we will be able to raise the standard of cancer care in a vastly underserved region.”
FCV, a nonprofit organization, is a leader in cardiac care in Latin America and is ranked No. 1 in Colombia and No. 4 in Latin America by América Economía, which uses a ranking methodology similar to that employed by U.S. News World Report’s Best Hospitals ranking. The first institution in Colombia accredited by the Joint Commission International, the FCV expects its new hospital to house 870 beds, including 20 beds for inpatient oncology care. In addition to oncology, the FCV is planning four additional specialized institutes.
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During the pre-operational phase of the project, UPMC will provide guidance on training for physicians and nurses, equipment selection, construction plans, operational policies and procedures. It will also provide clinical pathways and oncology care best practices. After the facility opens, UPMC will act as co-manager and provide on-the-ground support to the center through dedicated staff members in Colombia, supplemented by visiting staff from Pittsburgh, as well as ongoing telehealth initiatives.