Glendale Adventist Medical Center: Access Project

A $100,000 grant to Glendale Adventist Medical Center (GAMC) in 2009 successfully addressed access barriers to clinical trials for cancer patients. Cancer clinical trials have resulted in huge advances in cancer treatment and the ACCESS project (Access to Cancer Care, Education, Studies and Support) provided an innovative solution to increasing and simplifying access to effective cancer therapies for vulnerable populations while raising physician awareness about treatment options. To accomplish this, GAMC implemented a technological solution - a software interface - that identifies patients eligible for cancer clinical trials within 48 hours of their diagnosis. ACCESS project team members then share available cancer clinical trials and cancer care resources with the patients' oncologists, surgeons, radiologists and primary care physicians.

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.