Siteman Cancer Center is expanding its reach to north St. Louis County, a move aimed at better serving the region’s African-American population.
Doctors will begin seeing patients at Christian Hospital during the first week of July, where Siteman will replace the hospital’s existing Cancer Care Center. A new building in Florissant is slated to open in 2019, pending regulatory approvals.
Public health advocates say placing a cancer center in an underserved area will improve cancer care for residents in the neighborhood.
Three of Siteman’s four existing centers in the St. Louis region are located in the more predominantly white enclaves of St. Peters, Creve Coeur, and south St. Louis County. The new center will be closer to where many of its African-American patients live, Siteman Director Dr. Tim Eberlein said.
“We really wanted to reach that community,” Eberlein said. “It would have to be done through a permanent partnership and not just by coming in with an idea, trying to develop an idea and then leaving.”
The change will expand the number of clinical trials that his patients will be able to join, said Dr. Tim Reardon, medical director for the north St. Louis County center. Previously, he had to refer them to a Siteman center half an hour away, in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis.
“It never fails. Several times per month, I’ll try to convince someone to go down to [the Kingshighway location] to be considered for a protocol," he said. "And they just say they’re not traveling down there. It’s just not worth the issue."
From Christian Hospital, cancer patients who don't have a car would have to take two buses and the Metrolink to travel to the Siteman location off Kingshighway. The new center will bring care much closer to them.
“Having a physical space in an area of high need is really important, and it shows this region is beginning to think about things like health equity,” said Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network. ‘’You deploy your resources based on neighborhoods and people who have been historically disadvantaged.”
Most of the staff members at Christian Hospital’s Cancer Care Center will transition to work for Siteman. When the center moves into its new location, the Christian Hospital clinic will close.
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