(LITTLE ROCK) — CARTI, Little Rock Hematology Oncology (LRHO) and Radiation Oncology Associates, P.A. (ROAPA), announced today that they are partnering together to form a multi-specialty, coordinated and patient-focused cancer group. Owned by CARTI, the organization will include medical and surgical oncologists and diagnostic radiologists, with the possibility of eventually adding other cancer specialists. In addition, CARTI will continue their current partnership with ROAPA, which includes seven radiation oncologists.
“At CARTI, our mission for 35 years has been to promote the finest quality cancer treatment and compassionate care and we have done so by only focusing on radiation therapy,” Karen Flake, Chairman of the CARTI Board of Directors, said. “We believe the best way to achieve our overall mission is to partner with high-caliber medical, surgical and radiation oncologists and diagnostic radiologists to become the region’s largest community cancer center in the private practice arena. This partnership with LRHO, ROAPA and CARTI allows us to do that.”
CARTI will work with the LRHO and ROAPA physicians to build a new cancer center in Little Rock that will allow patients easier access to fully integrated cancer care. CARTI is acquiring certain assets of LRHO, and its physicians are signing contracts to work with CARTI. ROAPA has served as the contracted radiation oncology medical staff at CARTI’s private practice centers located on the campuses of St. Vincent, Baptist Health and Baptist/North Little Rock, and in Searcy and Conway since each of the facilities opened.
“Our three groups have talked over the years about ways to partner together that would be good for our patients, community, colleagues and physicians,” Jan Burford, President and CEO said. “The timing was right for everyone to come around the table to partner together.”
Though the contract has been signed, the clinics will not be under the CARTI umbrella until some of the billing details are finalized.
“We hope to finalize the partnership and become one organization by the end of the year. In the meantime, we will be looking at properties that may be a fit for the new cancer center. Once we have a firm location, we will begin the construction process.”
LRHO is the largest private cancer clinic in Central Arkansas, with 10 physicians who treat adult cancers and blood disorders. Started in 1985, the practice includes Hematologists/Oncologists Lawrence Mendelsohn, M.D., LRHO President and CEO; Mariann Harrington, M.D., Kewen Jauss, M.D., Balan Nair, M.D., Kamal Patel, M.D., and Diane Wilder. M.D.; Diagnostic Radiologists Thomas Koonce, M.D., Donald Norwood, M.D. and John Slayden, M.D.; and Oncology Surgeon Scott Stern, M.D.
“This partnership will allow the physicians with LRHO to continue providing excellent care for our patients, while working with a locally-owned organization that focuses only on cancer,” Mendelsohn said. “CARTI is an established, well-respected organization that has a 35-year track record of providing high quality care for cancer patients. We wanted to pursue a partnership with them because they rely heavily on physicians for their leadership in clinical care. This is a win-win for the cancer patients of Arkansas because all three groups share the mission of bringing the fight to cancer. Partnering together will allow us to be even stronger in our fight.”
Radiation Oncology Associates, P.A., is a seven-member medical practice that includes Xiang Gao, M.D., Bryan Imamura, M.D., Anne Maners, M.D., Cheryl Payne, M.D., Christopher Pope, M.D., Mark Storey, M.D. and Michael Talbert, M.D.
“ROAPA physicians helped to create the vision for CARTI and found the institution 35 years ago, establishing a centralized, world-class radiotherapy institute for the patients of Arkansas,” said Storey, President of ROAPA. “We have cared for the patients of LRHO since they opened their clinic in 1985. This partnership will be beneficial to the cancer patients of the state and represents a great opportunity. We are joining together three of the biggest names in cancer care in central Arkansas, which will allow us to have an even more integrated approach and allow us to improve cancer treatment.
According to Burford, CARTI, which was started in 1976 as Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute, will now be known just as CARTI, to eliminate the reference to radiation in its name.
“We will no longer be known for just radiation,” Burford said. “We now will have medical, surgical and radiation oncologists and diagnostic radiologists, with the possibility to eventually add other
cancer physicians. After 35 years, we believe the name CARTI stands on its own, so our name will now be synonymous with cancer care.”
As a nonprofit, CARTI has a foundation that was founded in 1983. Much of the money raised by the CARTI Foundation provides patient assistance programs such as housing, transportation and financial assistance to those who qualify, emotional and nutritional counseling and cancer survivor retreats, according to Burford.
“CARTI has a history of not just treating the cancer, but treating the whole patient and their family,” said Burford. “LRHO has that same philosophy, with both of our organizations employing resource coordinators and social workers, and working with dieticians and emotional counselors who help patients with their needs. By late fall, we expect the patient assistance programs at CARTI, known as our Ray of Hope Programs, to also be available to LRHO patients, as well. This will bring the number of patients benefiting from the Ray of Hope programs from about 2500 a year to more than 14,500 a year.”
These programs include housing, transportation and financial assistance, emotional and nutritional counseling and cancer survivor retreats, to name a few.
CARTI is a nonprofit cancer center with seven facilities located throughout Arkansas in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway, Mountain Home and Searcy. CARTI employs 174 people statewide. LRHO has clinics in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Clinton, Morrilton, El Dorado, Benton and Heber Springs, and employs 167 colleagues. ROAPA staffs CARTI facilities on the campuses of St. Vincent, Baptist Health, Baptist/North Little Rock and in Searcy and Conway.