Cancer Center Clinic Opens

August 1, 1997

Judith Zwolak

It's truly one-stop shopping for patients with cancer," says Tulane Cancer Center Director Roy Weiner of the center's new ambulatory clinic, which opened last month. "It's built for patient convenience on the one hand and also to maximize collegial and professional interaction on the part of the faculty on the other hand," he says. Physicians and staff moved into the new clinic early last month and physicians will see the first patients in early August.

The 20,000-square-foot facility is located on the ground floor of the Saratoga Street parking garage. The clinic contains 12 examining rooms, a chemotherapy treatment suite, surgical procedure and radiation therapy areas, a laboratory sub-station and the center's tumor registry. Also, the Patricia Trost-Friedler Cancer Counseling Center is also housed in the new facility.

"Previously, our clinics were scattered on different floors of the [Reily Pavilion] clinic," Weiner says. "Now, everything can be taken care of in one place. The patient can expect to find, no matter when they come to the clinic, that there will always be a medical oncologist, always a surgical oncologist and always a radiation oncologist in place, so that the patient doesn't have to go home and come back for another visit."

Currently, the 34 Cancer Center clinicians see between 500 and 600 new patients each year, and the center has a total of 5,000 outpatient clinic visits each year, according to Andre duPlessis, an administrative fellow at the Cancer Center. The new clinic was designed to accommodate a five-year growth projection of about 10,000 clinic visits per year by 2002.

In addition to oncology services already in place--which include specialists in surgery, gynecology, otolaryngology, neurology and urology--the new clinic will offer radiation oncology services for the first time at Tulane. Weiner says the new clinic will also enhance the center's academic activities.

"For medical students and house staff, this is the first time, no matter what specialty they rotate from, that they're going to be in a multidisciplinary environment," he says. "We also have a grant to have a social work student train in the facility. We intend to have nursing students at the graduate and undergraduate levels train here. It is an academic center that represents a teaching model that really reflects medicine to come, rather than medicine that was."

Mary Coniglio, facilitator of services at the Friedler Cancer Counseling Center, says the new clinic will expand her abilities to provide emotional support and education to cancer patients and their families. "We'll still have a group counseling room furnished like a living room to make it more homey," she says. "The expanded part will include a larger resource library and a conference room where we can hold educational seminars."

The resource library will house computers with Internet access, informational video and audio tapes and a library of medical journals and coping magazines. Formerly located in a corner of the hospital, the counseling center will now be more accessible to patients and their families, Coniglio adds.

"We can be much more efficient and much more individualized," she says. "Patients and families who need a lot of assistance will be able to be focused on. A family who is really highly developed in terms of their coping abilities may only need assistance occasionally, and we'll be easily accessible to them as well."

Weiner sees the clinic as integral to the research, education and treatment responsibilities of an academic medical center. "The fact that we were able to make the clinic a patient-friendly structure that also is designed to be efficient and pleasant for the physician makes me optimistic that our academic goals are going to be met here as well," he says. "Academics can flourish while retaining patient orientation. This is what differentiates us from a community facility."

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