Via Christi on the Leading Edge of Cancer Care, Clinical Trials

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother were ahead of their time when they recruited Irish oncologist Harry Hynes, MD, who had just completed his fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic, to Wichita. At the time, cancer care was a much-needed but uncommon level of specialty care outside of major metropolitan areas.

During his lifetime, Dr. Hynes cared for thousands of patients and served as principal investigator for Wichita’s community clinical oncology program, the first to be established in a mid-size market.

Shaker Dakhil, MD
Medical Director, Oncology Services

His chosen successor, Cancer Center of Kansas oncologist Shaker Dakhil, MD, has continued to ensure that patients throughout Kansas have access to the latest cancer research and clinical trials through the Wichita NCORP and its relationships with programs such as the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and participating physicians nationwide.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute and based at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis, the Wichita NCORP recruits participants for investigational studies designed to determine new ways to treat, prevent, detect, diagnose, and control cancer and improve quality of life. Since its launch 35 years ago, the program has enrolled more than 18,000 participants in clinical trials and repeatedly has been recognized as one of the nation’s leaders in patient accrual.

Via Christi also has continued to establish St. Francis as a comprehensive center for cancer care.

David Bryant, MD
Medical Director, Radiation Oncology

In 2000, Via Christi built an outpatient cancer center on its St. Francis campus that today offers a full complement of radiation and CyberKnife therapy under the medical direction of radiation oncologist David Bryant, MD. It also houses Via Christi’s:

  • Cancer Wellness program, which offers exercise therapy specially designed to help cancer survivors maintain their fitness before and after treatment
  • Cancer Outreach and Risk Assessment program, which includes genetic testing and counseling to help determine patients’ risk of developing cancer in the future and nurse navigators to help patients understand their plan of treatment
  • Low-dose CT Lung Cancer Screening program designed to reduce lung cancer deaths through early detection

In 2012, the entire north wing of the seventh floor at St. Francis was completely renovated to become what is still the area’s only dedicated medical and surgical cancer treatment center.

The Via Christi Cancer Institute features 40 private patient rooms; family gathering, sleep and laundry rooms; a gym; prayer and meditation room; movie theater; dedicated massage, yoga and art therapy rooms to help patients cope with the physical and emotional stress of cancer; and two radiation therapy rooms.

Bassam Mattar, MD
Medical Director, Blood and Marrow Transplant

It also houses the Blood and Marrow Transplant Center, established by Via Christi, Cancer Center of Kansas and the American Red Cross in 1989. The center, which is under the medical direction of CCK’s Bassam Mattar, MD, features six patient rooms designed specifically for patients undergoing marrow and stem cell transplantation and has been accredited for autologous transplant since 1999.

St. Francis’ fifth-floor ChildLife Center cares for children fighting cancer and its 21 chair second-floor ambulatory infusion center provides a comfortable environment for patients receiving chemo and other therapies.

“We were the first in the area to become accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer,” says Claudio Ferraro, Executive Leader for Oncology Services at Via Christi. “It’s a testament to our long-standing commitment to quality and providing the best possible environment for receiving or providing cancer care.”