Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network Among Largest Transplant Providers in Nation


The legendary Sarah Cannon … aka Minnie Pearl … will forever be a Nashville icon and national treasure. Today, HCA’s cancer service line named in her honor also is touching lives across the country.


Headquartered in Nashville, the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network now ranks as one of the largest providers of blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) across the United States and United Kingdom, conducting more than 800 transplants annually. With five network members and three additional HCA BMT centers, more than 9,500 patients have been treated since the inception of the first program.


Rocky Billups, vice president of Operations for Southwest, Central Group Hematology/BMT, said the program’s quality and consistency of care make it unique. “In 2011, we brought programs together with standardized policies and procedures, clinical pathways and nursing and physician education to provide quality programs,” Billups explained. “Our goal is to have the same standard of care whether a patients is transplanted in Nashville or Denver.” Additionally, network-wide standardization means patients gain access to Sarah Cannon’s clinical trials regardless of which site they visit.


Quality improvement measures include an oncology alert program that equips patients with an identification card to present at any partner facility’s ER. The patient immediately receives a private room, medical assessment and antibiotics. The measure has driven the admit-to-antibiotic time to less than 45 minutes – an impressive feat compared to the 187-minute national average. The program is already underway at TriStar Centennial Medical Center and is expected to be implemented across all HCA facilities in the coming months.


The network also provides an international platform for cancer research and physician education, said Tonya Cox, assistant vice president of the Blood Cancer Network.


“National data shows that many physicians believe transplantation isn’t appropriate for older patients and part of the message we want to get out is that data is showing it can be safe for older patients thanks to newer therapies that weren’t available a decade ago,” Cox said. “That’s huge in terms of improving survival of blood cancer patients.”


The Sarah Cannon Research Institute also includes a Blood Cancer Research Consortium – a group of thought leaders in blood cancer investigation who, in partnership with SCRI, have built a network integrating research into their treatment centers.


Every site includes principal investigators, sub-investigators and dedicated research staff to assist with protocol adherence, data collection, and regulatory and safety compliance. In addition to investigator-initiated clinical trials, the sites also partner with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop new compounds for the treatment of blood cancer.


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Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network