Unanticipated consequences of the ACCESS project extended into many clinical spheres. The infrastructure developed for cancer clinical trials enabled GAMC to carry out clinical and observational studies in a variety of other areas. In fact, because the project generated so much interest among physicians for involvement in ongoing research, GAMC established a Department of Clinical Research to support medical research throughout the hospital. This new department has facilitated additional studies, including clinical trials in cardiology and cognitive dysfunction and observational and data gathering studies.
"This grant enabled us to grow from a small research organization focused only on cancer to a hospital department providing a wide variety of studies associated with a wide variety of medical disciplines." commented Bruce Nelson, GAMC Director of Community Services. The ACCESS project increased the hospital's capacity to attract physicians interested in continuing their involvement in research while practicing community-based medicine. It has also positively impacted other areas of patient care delivery.
Dr. Jenny Keppler, Director of the Department of Clinical Research, explained, "Because medical research studies require stringent processes, there is a spillover effect that benefits the quality of health care delivery in other hospital departments. The availability of clinical research trials at the hospital also engaged health care professionals in keeping current on novel approaches to care."
As a result of GAMC's involvement in cancer clinical trials research, the hospital received accreditation as a Community Hospital Cancer Program from the America College of Surgeon's Commission on Cancer. This award is meant to encourage and promote communication and cooperation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists.