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Monday
December 09th, 2019

Central Cancer Care Center employees take a picture with their recent certification from Quality Oncology Practice Initiative. L&T photo/Elly Grimm

ELLY GRIMM

• Leader & Times

Liberal’s Central Care Cancer Center facility has received many recognitions during its time in Liberal and recently, the facility added another honor to its walls. 

Central Care Cancer Center recently received its Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) certification and celebrated the accomplishment Monday morning. 

“What this certification means is Central Care Cancer Center has met or exceeded the national benchmark through our quality care,” CCCC Marketing Manager Aaron Cannon said. “That includes the qualifications of the staff here, the practice staff, it also includes documentation and chemotherapy prep and administration, which means those nurses are certified to mix their own chemotherapy. This also includes patient monitoring and assessment and what we’d do if there was an emergency. We went through a company-wide process in order to receive this certification and we’re one of only a few in the state of Kansas that can say we have the QOPI certification.”

The QOPI Certification Program has certified more than 300 practices across the United States, Brazil, Greece, Spain, Romania and Saudi Arabia. The program provides a three-year certification for outpatient hematology-oncology practices. This validates processes that demonstrate to patients, payors, and for the medical community, a practice’s commitment to quality.

Liberal’s CCCC facility found out about the certification in October and has been celebrating with the other CCCC offices in the area. 

“A lot of it was a feeling of relief. It was basically a two-year process in the making, so it took a lot of time to get everyone trained and up to speed,” Cannon said. “We were also excited, it was a lot of hard work for a lot of people including our front desk staff, our doctors, everyone was involved. It’s really wonderful for us to say we got this certification. We’d initially started with those test sites and then built on that so we could make it a company-wide thing, and now all of our clinics have this QOPI certification. We started planning the process about five years ago and then our first location was QOPI certified like two years ago. Then ultimately we’ve been able to do that with all of our other locations.”

“And receiving this shows we’re really committed to giving the best quality oncology care we can, and this certification just furthers that commitment we have to everyone,” CCCC Cancer Center Director Johanna Garzon added. “It’s all about the patients and this is just another way we show we care about them receiving the best care they can. We’d actually started with a couple of different locations of ours and it was about two years ago when we started the process for here and it was about four years ago when our location in Dodge City was certified for this.”

Overall, both Cannon and Garzon agreed, the process for the certification was quite extensive. 

“This is actually not a one-off thing where they certify us and then that’s it, we’re going to keep going and keep working our best to improve the level of care our patients receive with the chemotherapy and other treatments,” Garzon said. “The process shows yes, we did get certified, but we will never stop working to make things even better here. We have the best staff and people of any center in the U.S. and overall, this is an ongoing process. We’ll have this certification for three years and in that time, we’ll be working every day to keep on top.”

“Documentation was another big part of this process, we standardized all of that so our nurses’ notes and doctors’ notes are all the same across the board so if anyone needed to look at a patient’s notes, they’re all in the same place and cohesive and easy to understand,” Cannon said. 

Garzon also talked about some of the measures taken by the CCCC staff in order to take care of patients. 

“It wasn’t for this process per se, but we also make sure to have monthly meetings so we make sure we’re on top of everything and all of our staff is on the same page about everything,” Garzon said. “We also do peer reviews among the doctors so they’re also on top of everything. It’s an overall very comprehensive process. And this isn’t just for the certification process, that’s part of what we do with everyday patients so every day sees patients getting the best care they can. So there’s a lot of those things we do to meet not just the certification standards but also the standards we’ve set for ourselves here at Central Care Cancer Center. And like I said, it’s truly an ongoing process making sure we’re improving in every way we can.”

With the certification, there will be several good things seen with the facility and the patients who come through. 

“With the patients themselves, they’ll be sure the nurses and staff are taking every single necessary precaution to make sure their chemotherapy drugs are mixed and administered properly – there can be dangerous side effects if there’s something not mixed properly,” Cannon said. “This is a higher level of certification for that, so our patients can be certain they’ll be getting the care and medicines they need from the nurse and staff. And with the facility itself, some of the benefits go back to the paperwork. We’ve standardized everything so it’s a much quicker process and our nurses aren’t having to look through so many pages of notes and charts for what they need because it’s all right in the same place no matter who put it in. For example, if we have a patient who goes to another site for something, we know the necessary information is going to be on their charts and ready for those doctors to see. It cuts down wait time and has some other benefits, so it’s something everyone should see.”

Overall, Cannon and Garzon agreed, they are very proud of receiving the certification and will continue making even more improvements in the future. 

“We’re going to continue working our best to make sure to keep meeting or exceeding those standards so we can keep our certification,” Garzon said. “I also want to emphasize Dr. Velasco is bilingual, we know a lot of our patients in this area are Hispanic, so having him here is great so there’s nothing lost in translation as far as what treatment needs done and things like that.”

“This QOPI certification is for three years so within that time, there will be some changes implemented and we’ll have to make sure we stay on top of that and educate our staff and continue working as hard as we can for our patients,” Cannon said. “In addition to QOPI, Central Care Cancer Center is offering telemedicine now, so our patients in smaller communities in the area can talk to their doctors here if they need to. Sometimes there’s travel of an hour or more for a 15 to 20-minute appointment so we’re rolling that out and have a few sites for that already and I think that will be awesome for our patients.”

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