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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 11, 2010

Cancer center deal benefits all stakeholders

In this murky economic climate, one thing remains clear: It will take collaboration innovative partnerships that maximize resources around a shared goal to help lead us out of this fiscal mess.

So it's encouraging to see such a union emerge between the University of Hawai'i's Cancer Research Center and O'ahu's major hospitals. It's a prime example of entities finding common components of their broader mission and sharing resources to yield greater community benefit.

The cancer center will team up with The Queen's Medical Center, Hawai'i Pacific Health and Kuakini Health System in a progressive partnership that should result in improved cancer research and care benefitting Hawai'i residents.

As part of the agreement, they will share personnel, facilities information and resources. And Queen's and Hawai'i Pacific Health will both contribute $1 million each toward the cancer center's operations; Kuakini will toss in an additional $200,000 annually.

It's just what the doctor ordered for the cancer center, which surely could use the infusion to gain firm financial footing at a critical juncture. The center, which plans to open its new facility in 2013 across from the John A. Burns School of Medicine, also derives another key benefit from the partnership: It will no longer have to finance the construction of a clinic, which is part of the requirement for obtaining the prestigious designation as a National Cancer Institute center. It can now rely on its partner facilities to meet that need. That should yield a savings of roughly $80 million in construction costs.

"It's critical," center director Dr. Michele Carbone says of the partnership. "Without the partnership we could not reach the goal of becoming a world-class research center. Everybody feels that this is something bigger than any one of us as institutions or as human beings, that it is worthwhile doing because it is the right thing to do for the community."

Carbone said the partnership will help create a state-of-the-art cancer center to deliver high-quality cancer care for residents, eliminating the need for residents to fly elsewhere for treatment.

Indeed, Art Ushijima, Queen's president and chief executive officer, said the partnership sets aside institutional interests in order to eliminate duplication, share resources and create better care for cancer patients, who will directly benefit from the collective expertise and the cancer center's research.

"This creates a vehicle and opportunity that we didn't have before to promote collaboration to optimize our resources in a more cost-effective way and to provide the best care and outcomes possible," Ushijima said.

Let's hope other companies and nonprofit organizations, as well as public-sector agencies, can follow that lead and collaboratively work to help ensure a better overall future. As we prepare to navigate our way out of this $1.2 billion budget deficit, we'll need all the help we can get.