By Erika Z. Byrd
As one of the premier cancer centers in the nation, the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center could simply celebrate its 25th anniversary milestone in 2014 by maintaining the quality care for which it has earned renown. Instead, this dynamic team is working to provide an even wider array of services to help those with cancer and their families as they journey through diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.
From its beginnings as a radiation oncology program in 1989, the Comprehensive Cancer Center has grown to a 21-member physician team, plus 120-member support staff, offering a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care. Complementing its 60,000-square-foot main office on the Desert Regional campus in Palm Springs, is a satellite office with infusion center in La Quinta which opened in 2011. Plans are to expand this facility in the near future.
Within the past year alone, six new physicians have joined the team including two medical oncologists — Nicolas Batty, MD, FACP, FASCP and Brahma R. Konda, MD, a radiation oncologist – Amir Lavaf, MD, a surgical oncologist — Janet Ihde, MD who serves as medical director of Women’s Health; neuro-oncologist Xiao-Tang Kong, MD and gynecologist — Ava Mahapatra, MD, 2012-2014 president of Desert Regional Medical Staff, who relocated her offices to the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Two additional medical oncologists are being recruited to come aboard in 2014.
With the arrival of Dr. Kong this past April patients with brain and spinal cord cancer can now be treated locally without having to leave the valley.
“From our founding, it has always been our goal to provide all the care that a person with cancer needs under one roof,” said Executive Director Teresa Whipple. “Having cancer is stressful enough without having to go from place to place to receive care. We know that it’s easier and more effective to navigate the challenges of cancer when you have a caring, multidisciplinary team on your side who can walk with you every step of the way.”
Following an initial visit with their physician, each Cancer Center patient is assigned a social worker who connects them with a resource network including dieticians, classes, and support groups. New this year is a tai chi class which joins a whole calendar of events, such as cooking classes and artistic outlets, including Journallage and Lenscape to help patients chronicle their progress and express the emotional aspects of their journey.
“When a patient feels supported, they are more confident to go through their journey. We do more than treat cancer,” stated Medical Director Elber S. Camacho, MD. “We recognize the importance of establishing a relationship with each patient that addresses their overall well-being.”
• 1180 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Suite E218, Palm Springs, CA 92262
• 47647 Caleo Bay, Suite 260, La Quinta, CA 92253