Prendergast awarded Special Interest Project

University of Illinois Cancer Center member Heather Prendergast, MD, MS, MPH, was awarded a Special Interest Project that is included in the new P3RC grant. The grant’s title is “Improving cancer survivor treatment and outcomes by ensuring appropriate emergency/acute care treatment.”

The project, which is funded for two years at $500,000, will implement risk-stratified treatment protocols that standardize patient care and allow for rapid re-assessment and access to specialist care through well-coordinated cancer care plans. Changing care delivery models while providing education regarding survivorship recommendations among an underrepresented population seeking care in the emergency department are needed to improve outcomes, Prendergast said.

“Emergency departments serve high-risk cancer patients that are either lost in transition between care environments and end up seeking episodic care in the ED, or do not have a regular source of medical care or a medical home and routinely utilize the ED as their source of primary care,” said Prendergast, professor of emergency medicine in the University of Illinois College of Medicine. “Studies have demonstrated poorer outcomes among these groups of patients.”

Health disparities in cancer survivorship have persisted despite significant improvements in early detection and treatment over the past several decades, she said. In addition, significant challenges and gaps remain in navigating transitions between acute care and outpatient care for many cancer survivors.

Currently, overall adherence to published survivorship guidelines and treatment recommendations are suboptimal for these patients, she said. The proposal builds on current survivorship efforts and is strengthened by the existing partnership between an academic urban ED, a comprehensive academic cancer center (UI Health Cancer Center), an Emergency Department-based clinical decision unit (CDU), and a federally qualified health center (Mile Square) to offer protocol driven care, rapid diagnostic options, and direct linkage to primary care. The goal of the proposal is to develop a portable model for ED cancer treatment guidelines and management using evidence-based protocols in a population at high risk for impaired survivorship.

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