Westwood — As the Kansas University Cancer Center plows ahead in pursuit of the National Cancer Institute's highest designation, KU Hospital will chip in another $1 million toward the effort this year.
Less than a year after the Cancer Center earned NCI designation, leaders are already hard at work on the next step: securing NCI comprehensive cancer center designation. KU Cancer Center director Roy Jensen said the goal was to reach that level in 2017.
"I think we're in good shape to make that jump," Jensen said in an interview following a closed-session presentation to the KU Hospital Authority Board.
The hospital donates funds to the KU Cancer Center each year as part of an affiliation agreement with KU Medical Center. The Authority Board approved this year's grant unanimously Tuesday.
Last year's designation announcement capped a decade-long effort, but the Cancer Center will aim to land the comprehensive label just five years later.
That means an application will be due Sept. 25, 2016, which Jensen knows is exactly 1,359 days from now.
Before that date, the Cancer Center must work to bolster its research efforts, especially in the area of population science. That's the study of cancer and mortality rates, as well as causes such as smoking and other behaviors, among a certain population.
"That's not something we're currently known for," Jensen said.
In the KU center's case, it would be responsible for all of Kansas and western Missouri.
If it becomes a comprehensive center, the NCI will hold it responsible for reducing cancer and cancer-related deaths across that area, through care, public policy or whatever means required.
"It's our responsibility to make sure everything's being done to ensure that," Jensen said.
In July 2012 the cancer center became the 67th in the country to earn NCI designation. Only 41 of those have been named comprehensive cancer centers.
Jensen said a strategic planning effort for the new designation is underway, and it will finish during the year's first quarter.
Also during Tuesday's KU Hospital Authority Board meeting:
• Hospital CEO Bob Page pointed out that the hospital received quite a bit of media exposure Monday, or at least its logo did.
The logo appeared on a backdrop behind Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt and new coach Andy Reid during the team's news conference Monday to announce Reid's hiring. KU Hospital has a partnership with the Chiefs.
• Board chairman Robert Honse and Page thanked Steven Stites for his service as interim executive vice chancellor at the KU Medical Center and a hospital board member. It was Stites' final board meeting, as Douglas Girod will take over the executive vice chancellor job and its accompanying board seat on Feb. 1.
Stites, also the chairman of internal medicine at KUMC, has been the acting leader of the Medical Center since Barbara Atkinson stepped down last year.
"You put the patient at the center of everything," Page told Stites while thanking him.
• Tammy Peterman, chief operating officer for the hospital, noted several of its recent achievements: its designation as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center from The Joint Commission, one of the first five in the country; its 1,000th liver transplant since its transplant program began in 1990; and rising patient satisfaction scores, which so far in the current fiscal year rank in the 89th percentile among large hospitals in the country.