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UPMC Responds to Abrupt Discontinuation of Oncology Services in Somerset

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Cynthia Patton

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SOMERSETUPMC Hillman Cancer Center is expediting plans to provide uninterrupted cancer services for patients in Somerset following the abrupt discontinuation by another provider. 

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center has been negotiating in good faith with Allegheny Health Network (AHN), to assume the current oncology practice, including staff members and physicians in Somerset. In addition, UPMC was hoping to lease or purchase the building housing the cancer center so that current patients could remain in familiar surroundings while services were enhanced. 

The building owner has walked away from any negotiations and AHN has now decided to cease operations on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 instead of in March 2020 as previously planned. 

“With just about 30 days to put a plan in place to continue local oncology services in Somerset, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center wants to ensure current cancer patients, who are in the middle of their care plans, that we can successfully transition them to the closest UPMC Hillman Cancer Center of their choosing,” said Stephanie Dutton, chief operating officer of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “We realize how difficult a cancer diagnosis can be and we are expediting plans to provide oncology care without interruption for these patients.” 

The closest facility is UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at John P. Murtha Pavilion in Johnstown, which is 31 miles from Somerset. This will be a temporary transition while a UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is established within UPMC Somerset Hospital or on the campus by this spring.  

“We realize this is not an ideal situation for patients undergoing multiple treatments daily or weekly,” said Andy Rush, president of UPMC Somerset Hospital. “We want the community to know that we will have a new and expanded Hillman Cancer Center right here in just a few months.” 

While plans were already in place for UPMC to assume oncology services in the Somerset area from ANH, to date UPMC has had no access to patient names or contact information. For those patients who want more information on transitioning their care, they may speak with a representation or schedule any upcoming appointments by calling 1-888-9-HILLMAN (445-5626). 

“Our priority is to coordinate a seamless transition for the patients,” said Dutton. “We are asking current patients of the oncology practice in Somerset to call us so we can better help them with this process.” 

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is one of the largest integrated cancer networks in the nation, with nearly 70 community cancer centers. These centers have been the model of care for more than 20 years, so patients are able to receive world-class cancer care close to their home right in their community. The Hillman community cancer centers also provide patients with access to breakthrough research, and leading-edge therapies, right in their backyards. 

“Our integration with UPMC has been remarkable over the past 10 months, and their quick response to set up a continuation of treatment for cancer patients in this region is just another example of their commitment to UPMC Somerset Hospital and the community,” said Rush.