Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle health-care providers are exploring a restructuring of Seattle’s cancer programs that would speed patient access to new cancer treatments, the organizations announced on Tuesday.
Fred Hutch will partner with UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s in the proposed restructuring. The three organizations currently work together as Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), which operates nine cancer treatment centers in Washington state.
“This is the most exciting time in history for medical research to truly improve the lives of people,” said Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine. “This … will give us the opportunity to connect the best of science [and] medical research to patient care.”
Under the proposed restructure, SCCA and Fred Hutch would merge to form Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, which would operate all SCCA treatment centers. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center would also become UW Medicine’s cancer program and provide “oversight” of the medical provider’s oncology clinical programs. Seattle Children’s would continue to operate independently but serve as the central site for pediatric cancer care.
Partnering Fred Hutch, a research center that has worked extensively in bone marrow transplants, with patient treatment administered by UW Medicine and the SCCA restructure will make it easier to bring new treatments and clinical trials to patients, according to Nancy Davidson, president of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
“I think this is going to allow us to take … a laboratory finding or an idea from a laboratory finding to a clinical trial in a much more efficient and rapid fashion,” Davidson said.
The proposed restructure will not affect the treatment of current patients with the SCCA, Davidson also said. Doctors and care teams would stay the same during the transition.
“I want to reassure our patients that right now, nothing will change,” Davidson said. “What they will see, with time, is increased opportunity, more streamlined care … they’re going to have early access to the next generation of cancer treatments.”
Leaders from Fred Hutch, UW Medicine, Seattle Children’s and the SCCA say they will discuss the proposed restructure with governing boards, staff and faculty in the coming months. If the plan is approved, they plan to launch Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in early 2022. There would be no interruption to patient care.