The number of independent oncology practices in Connecticut is shrinking, but one of the state’s remaining providers has joined a growing cancer-fighting network to fortify its operation.
Medical Oncology and Blood Disorders LLP, which has offices in Hartford and Manchester, became part owners of New Jersey-based Regional Cancer Care Associates LLC earlier this month, according to a Jan. 17 news release. The regional network aims to equip doctors with the latest medical techniques and discoveries.
The Connecticut entity, known as MOABD, consists of six physicians affiliated with Hartford-based St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center as well as Manchester Memorial Hospital in Manchester and Rockville General Hospital in Vernon. Doctors at MOABD have offices at several locations, including the John A. DeQuattro Cancer Center on the Manchester Memorial Hospital campus.
“It was important for me to join a physician-owned and operated network that reflected my own philosophy of providing comprehensive, compassionate and personalized care in a setting that supports a strong physician-patient relationship,” said Dr. Michael Reale, a MOABD physician who has been affiliated with St. Francis Hospital since 2000. “My colleagues and I are involved in a number of clinical research projects, and RCCA’s extensive clinical trials program will enable us to continue that vital work and to offer our patients access to a variety of studies and cutting-edge therapies.”
The other MOABD doctors are Charanjeev Kapoor, Joseph McLaughlin, Mohammad Pazooki, Joel Silver and Joseph Sinning. The practice’s staff includes more than 20 oncology-certified nurses.
Regional Cancer Care Associates is looking to further expand in Connecticut, and plans to have alliance talks with additional private oncology practices in the state, RCCA spokesman Bryan Soltes said.
MOABD will be able to remain autonomous while reaping the benefits of a larger network, Soltes noted.
“There are not that many private oncology practices left in Connecticut,” he said. “RCCA provides private practices with the opportunity to remain private and not become employed by large healthcare systems.”
RCCA Chairman Dr. Edward Licitra said his network’s new footing in Connecticut follows a successful expansion into Maryland and Washington, D.C. in 2015. RCCA has 30 offices, more than 100 oncologists and more than 100 registered nurses under its umbrella.
“We look forward to working with our Connecticut colleagues to further extend that record of outstanding patient care delivered in the community setting,” Licitra said.
Plugging into a larger network is increasingly seen as a necessity for doctors interested in the latest treatments and research. RCCA has access to more than 300 research clinical trials, according to its website.
MOABD, meanwhile, treats 1,200 new cancer patients per year and has 50 treatment chairs, according to the Maryland-based Association of Community Cancer Centers.
There will be 21,900 new cancer cases in Connecticut this year, along with 6,610 deaths from cancer, according to American Cancer Society estimates. Connecticut is among the leading cancer prevention states in the U.S., although a 13.5 percent adult smoking rate ranks the state next to last nationally in that category.
Mergers and alliances
MOABD’s new affiliation follows a flurry of hospital mergers and alliances.
Manchester Memorial and Rockville General are both owned by Eastern Connecticut Health Network Inc., which was bought by California-based Prospect Medical Holdings Inc. last year. In 2015, St. Francis became part of Trinity Health New England, which stems from the Michigan-based Trinity Health network of Roman Catholic health centers that includes St. Mary’s in Waterbury.
St. Francis spokeswoman Fiona Phelan characterized MOABD’s partnership with RCCA as a decision by private practice doctors that has “nothing to do with the hospital.”
St. Francis and Yale-New Haven Hospital, which is Connecticut’s largest hospital, began a collaboration on cancer and oncology in 2015. The result is a branch of Yale-New Haven’s Smilow Cancer Hospital at St. Francis, to serve Hartford-area patients.
Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the most nationally recognized names in cancer care, had partnered on a center in Waterford with New London-based Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, but their affiliation ended after three years when L&M choose to become part of Yale-New Haven’s health network.
Linking with bigger operations amid a changing regulatory environment, however, has left some doctors and hospital administrators dissatisfied.
The Connecticut Hospital Association continues to challenge the state’s so-called hospital tax, saying it hurts members’ ability to care for patients. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s Hospital CEO Chad Wable last week told a Waterbury Regional Chamber audience that Connecticut is the worst state in which to run a hospital, according to a story in the Republican-American newspaper.