Duke, Wilson hospital join forces in cancer fight

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Wilson doctors and residents had cause to celebrate Thursday despite the rainy weather as an affiliation with the Duke Cancer Network was finalized.

“It is awesome,” said Duke Cancer Network associate director of research program development and education Lynda Owen, who grew up in Wilson. “Like most people, my family has been affected by cancer, so I think it is great to offer world-class care in our community. This is a great program already, but everyone is going to work together to elevate it that much further.”

Among the benefits of the new affiliation is the inclusion of Wilson patients in clinical trials through Duke and national research, which Dr. Peggy Metts said will hopefully provide better health outcomes.

“As a parent, I can say I strongly believe in the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child, and as a physician, I can also say that I believe strongly that it takes a community to care for its sick,” said Metts, who is the medical director of Wilson Medical Center Radiation Oncology. “And I think we really don’t have any better members we can welcome to our Wilson community than the Duke Cancer Network to help us in caring for our patients.”

Metts said while Thursday served as the official start of the affiliation, staff in Wilson have been working with Duke staff for months in an effort to implement the standards set by the Duke Cancer Network. And in addition to increased cooperation on patient care, the affiliation will also provide educational opportunities for doctors and the community.

“Hopefully most of you will never need any of our services, but if you do, I want you to know it is available for you right here in your own town,” Metts said.

Duke LifePoint and Duke Network Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harry Phillips III highlighted more than $24 million worth of investment in Wilson Medical Center last year ranging from updated laboratory equipment and diagnostic testing to renovations and new services.

Dr. Linda Sutton, chief medical officer at the Duke Cancer Network, said the new equipment is essential with cancer care in determining the affect treatments have on patients, noting it is essential to building a strong cancer program.

Owen, who has helped set up research programs at 10 other hospitals across the country, said she’s eager to help develop the research infrastructure here to allow Wilsonians to get advanced care closer to home.

“I’m a firm believer in making sure patients have access to the very best care possible in their communities, particularly cancer patients,” said Sutton. “It is really hard to get in your car and drive two or three hours when you’re sick. ...You want to be able to be home where people you know and love are able to be there to support you both in your home and professionally. So, to me personally, this is a really important thing you’re doing with the Duke Cancer Network.”

For more about Wilson Medical Center’s cancer care, visit www.wilsonmedical.com/services/cancer-care-services/.