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May 7, 2013 > Washington Hospital Earns Outstanding Achievement Award for Cancer Programs

Washington Hospital Earns Outstanding Achievement Award for Cancer Programs

The American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer (CoC) has named Washington Hospital as one of only 79 organizations nationwide to receive its coveted Outstanding Achievement Award based on cancer program surveys conducted during 2012. The hospital also is one of only three institutions in California to earn this recognition.

The CoC Outstanding Achievement Awards are designed to recognize cancer programs that strive for excellence in providing quality care to cancer patients. Award recipients include community-based facilities such as Washington Hospital, teaching hospitals, comprehensive cancer centers, VA hospitals and network cancer programs that currently are accredited by the CoC.

To maintain accreditation and be considered for Outstanding Achievement Award recognition, these facilities must undergo a rigorous evaluation and an on-site review every three years. Washington Hospital also earned an Outstanding Achievement Award the last time the CoC conducted its accreditation review and on-site survey in 2009. Of the 79 Outstanding Achievement Award recipients for 2012, only 34 programs also received the award in 2009.

"We are especially pleased to receive this award for the second time in a row," says medical oncologist Vandana B. Sharma, M.D., PhD. "This second award serves as recognition that we are continuing to expand our cancer care services and that we are always looking forward to improving the care of cancer patients in our community."

Dr. Sharma serves as chair of Washington Hospital's Cancer Committee and Medical Oncology Department, as well as Medical Director of the hospital's Cancer and Genetics Programs. She also is co-chair of the Breast Health Committee at Washington Hospital.

"In their surveys for Outstanding Achievement Awards, the CoC evaluates the quality of leadership of each organization's cancer committee," explains Dr. Sharma. "The Washington Hospital Cancer Committee is comprised of a multi-disciplinary group of board-certified physicians across a broad range of specialties, as well as professionals in areas such as pharmacy, social services, quality improvement, cancer data management, community outreach and research."

In addition to Dr. Sharma, members of the Washington Hospital Cancer Committee include:
* Kranthi Achanta, M.D., General Surgery
* Michael Bastasch, M.D., Radiation Oncology
* Jessie Xiong, M.D., Pathology
* Jacob Wouden, M.D., Radiology
* Minh-Thu Dennen, Director of Pharmacy
* Mary Bowron, Director of Quality & Resource Management
* Marianne Heltzel, Cancer Registry Program Coordinator
* Lita Hughes, RN, Nursing
* Shari Kellen, RN, Nurse Navigator
* Alice Santos, RN, Director of Medical/Surgical Nursing
* Laura Scielzo, Social Services
* Ruth Traylor, Director of Community Outreach
* Jan Wood, RN, Senior Associate Administrator

"The CoC also evaluates cancer care programs for their performance in several quality-of-care standards, including cancer data management, clinical management, research, community outreach and quality improvement. Our Cancer Care Team at Washington Hospital achieved outstanding distinction in all measured standards," Dr. Sharma notes.

"One example of our commitment to excellence is our Cancer Registry Program which ensures that timely, accurate and complete data are collected and maintained on cancers and selected benign tumors that are diagnosed and/or treated at Washington Hospital," she explains. "Data on patient outcomes are analyzed to ensure that our patients receive high-quality care, and we compare our data with that of other cancer care providers across the nation through the National Cancer Data Base."

Dr. Sharma notes that Washington Hospital also participates in nationwide cutting-edge clinical oncology research trials through its affiliation with Stanford University and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group.

"We also have recruited a noted gynecologic oncologist, Dr. James Lilja, to develop a new program to manage clinical trials of new treatments for gynecological cancers such as cervical, ovarian and endometrial cancers," she adds. "Dr. Lilja now also has office hours here in Fremont so that women don't have to travel far from home to obtain gynecologic oncology surgery and follow-up care. We are continuing to invest in our program to stay at the leading edge of quality care."

Washington Hospital offers a robust community outreach program, according to Dr. Sharma. Some of the many services offered to the community include:
* Cancer support groups
* Free community lectures
* Free or low-cost mammography for uninsured women
* Skin cancer screenings

"We also work in partnership with the American Cancer Society in their research efforts and the Relay for Life fundraising campaign," she says.

Another accomplishment at Washington Hospital is the creation of a comprehensive Cancer Center, where a wide range of cancer care services are located close to one another.

"With our Infusion Center, Radiation Oncology Center and Breast Center all located within walking distance of each other, our patients don't have to travel to different locations for their various treatments," Dr. Sharma says. "We also have 'nurse navigators' in both the Infusion Center and Breast Center to help coordinate patients' care from diagnosis through treatment. In addition, we connect patients with resources for services such as physical therapy, social workers, spiritual care, advance directives, lymphedema treatment and resolving insurance issues.

For more information about Washington Hospital's wide range of cancer care services, visit There are currently more than 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, representing 30 percent of all hospitals. CoC-accredited facilities diagnose and/or treat more than 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer patients each year. For more information about the American College of Surgeons' Committee on Cancer, visit

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