Dedicated Hospitalist Model Teamwork a Differentiator for Ascension Via Christi Cancer Institute

Monday, November 2, 2020
Specialty: 

Internist Deanna Ternes, DO, grew up around hospitals and patients battling cancer.

Her father, oncologist Shaker Dakhil, MD, has been with Cancer Center of Kansas for nearly four decades, and her brother, oncologist Christopher Dakhil, MD, joined the group practice eight years ago.

Dr. Ternes decided to go a slightly different route and specialize in hospital-based care. Today, she is one of five Sound hospitalists, supported by a physician assistant, who are dedicated to caring for patients at the Cancer Institute at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, which spans the entire north wing of the hospital’s seventh floor.

“As hospitalists, we are here to help with patients being admitted directly to the unit, as well as from the ER and elsewhere in the hospital,” says Smyrna Abou Antoun, MD, who has been working with oncology patients for the past eight years. “Even if they are admitted to the ICU, we continue to direct their care to ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to oncology.”

In fact, Ascension Via Christi is the only hospital in Kansas outside of the Kansas City metro area with an inpatient cancer treatment center staffed seven days a week with board-certified internists dedicated to cancer care. The Cancer Institute care team also includes nurses and nurse navigators, social workers, dietitians, chaplains, volunteers and unit-based pharmacists — all with cancer-specific training and experience.

For referring physicians, having hospitalists as part of their multidisciplinary team means being able to get updates on their patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Our goal is to provide efficient and effective care and return patients to the care of their referring physician as quickly as possible,” says Vikas Agrawal, MD.

For patients and families, it means having an on-site specialist managing their care and available to provide updates.

“The cancer journey can be a long and difficult one,” says Hamzah Alqam, MD. “Having someone who you know and who knows you directing your hospital care can be helpful.”

It’s a model of care that benefits everyone.

“It leads to better coordination of care, which can mean better outcomes and patient experiences,” says Derek Young, MD.

And, says physician assistant Amanda Blackmore, “At the end of the day, that is why we are here.”

Ascension Via Christi: Leading the Way in Cancer Care

Ascension Via Christi, the area’s leader in cancer care, offers the only program in south-central Kansas accredited by both the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the Foundation for Accreditation for Cellular Therapy.

The Cancer Institute at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis offers a wide range of services, such as:

  • Chemotherapy, including care of patients with suppressed immune systems, outpatient blood transfusions, bone marrow and stem cell transplants, as well as palliative care to relieve pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness, whatever the diagnosis or prognosis
  • Biotherapy/immunotherapy, which stimulates the body’s immune defense system to fight disease and infection and is often done in combination with surgery or radiation therapy
  • Surgery in advanced surgical suites equipped with the latest technology

Its soothing patient- and family-friendly environment features 40 spacious private patient rooms, including six equipped for patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation, dedicated rooms for radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and an ambulatory infusion center.

Patient amenities include on-demand meal service, a movie theater and yoga, art therapy and massage therapy rooms — all designed to provide a comfortable environment in which to give and receive care.

State-of-the-art treatment technologies — such as Kansas’ only CyberKnife Center — make Ascension Via Christi St. Francis home to one of the most advanced cancer centers in the region.


To refer a patient to the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Institute, call 316-268-5555 and ask for the Sound hospitalist on call for Oncology.