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  Vol. 22, No. 13  Previous Table of Contents Home  Next July 15, 2000 

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Unveils New Facility in Spain


by JULIE A. PENNE
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

On June 7, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center inaugurated M. D. Anderson International - España, its first international affiliation and Spain's first multidisciplinary full-service cancer center.

When the first patient is registered later this summer, M. D. Anderson International - España will offer inpatient and outpatient services housed in a freshly refurbished hospital. Adjacent to the remodeled clinic will be a newly constructed radiation therapy facility built to specifications and standards established by M. D. Anderson.

M. D. Anderson International - España is a venture between MDA Holding Spain, S.A., a Spanish investment consortium, and the M. D. Anderson Outreach Corporation, a health care organization created in 1989 to open and expand access to M. D. Anderson's internationally recognized standard of cancer care.

In return for assisting with the development and operation of the Madrid facility, M. D. Anderson Outreach Corporation has a small equity and share in profits. Neither M. D. Anderson Cancer Center nor M. D. Anderson Outreach Corporation has invested any actual dollars in the project.

M. D. Anderson also has two seats on the 10-member board of directors of MDA Holding Company. The two board seats have significant "reserve powers," which mandate that both representatives approve certain decisions such as those related to quality assurance.

In addition to funding M. D. Anderson International - España, MDA Holding Spain, S.A. will develop and market an insurance product that will guarantee treatment at M. D. Anderson International - España and in Houston. The product will target approximately 6 million people in Spain who have private insurance through their employers.

According to Dr. Martin Raber, senior vice president for strategic and business planning, the center will open with about 50 employees and register an estimated 500 patients in the first year. It will be the only facility in Spain where patients with cancer can receive all of their diagnostic tests, inpatient and outpatient treatment and see all of their physicians at a single site, he says.

When the program is fully established in Madrid, patients will be able to stay closer to home, yet still be treated according to M. D. Anderson's clinical care guidelines. Patients also will have access to many of the clinical trials offered at M. D. Anderson.

Dr. John Mendelsohn, president of M. D. Anderson, says that more than 100 patients come from Spain to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center every year, and many more would like to come but cannot because of the time and expense required. The center in Madrid will give those patients an opportunity to benefit from the M. D. Anderson approach to care.

After completing major renovations to the tri-level hospital, formerly known as the Policlinica Naval Nuestra Sonora del Carmen, the finishing touches are now being made to the breast center and diagnostic imaging area.

M. D. Anderson International - España will include outpatient clinics, outpatient chemotherapy units and 20 inpatient beds. It will utilize the surgical facilities, emergency room and intensive care unit of the adjacent hospital.

Close to the clinic building will be the radiation therapy facility, a building soon to be completed. When construction is completed at the end of June, it will house two new linear accelerators and a treatment planning system as well as an MRI, brachytherapy, CT scanner, mammography and ultrasound. All the radiology equipment is digital to allow for images to be transmitted throughout the Madrid center and to Houston. The equipment will be installed and commissioned later this summer. Funding was provided by participants in Madrid.

Since 1998, M. D. Anderson faculty and staff have worked closely with their counterparts in Madrid, collaborating on infrastructure, training and quality assurance. They have developed and implemented a variety of clinical practices and programs, including patient education, nursing, pharmacy, radiation physics and dosimetry and management information in an effort to replicate M. D. Anderson operations.

All physicians and surgeons of M. D. Anderson International - España will work full time at the center. Thus far, medical oncologists, hematologists, a radiation oncologist and a breast surgeon have spent extended time in Houston or trained with their specialty teams, says Dr. Raber. More than a dozen nurses trained in Houston for six weeks last spring.

Educational opportunities will be an integral part of the Madrid facility, says Dr. Raber. Physicians at M. D. Anderson International - España will conduct weekly clinical consultations to discuss treatment planning and review radiologic images and pathology reports with their colleagues in Houston via telemedicine and the Internet. Physicians in Spain also will have access to continuing medical education, he says.

In addition to the Spain facility, the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Outreach Corporation has teamed with a variety of cancer care facilities, community programs and medical systems to extend M. D. Anderson's reach. At present, Outreach affiliates include: M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Center Orlando, Orlando, Fla.; Spohn Stem Cell Program affiliated with M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Outreach, Corpus Christi; and M. D. Anderson Outreach - Brazosport, Lake Jackson.

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