The American Hospital Association and Jackson Healthcare recently honored the local Tina Kiser Cancer Concern Coalition (TKC3) and Southeastern Med with the prestigious National Hospital Charitable Services Program of Excellence Award. Ten programs are selected annually recognizing exceptional work in setting new standards for giving back to their communities in maintainable ways. This year, 209 programs submitted applications and community impact statements and 50 programs were chosen as finalists. All finalists were invited to attend a daylong educational seminar in Atlanta about community service programs. The day ended with an awards dinner where Southeastern Med’s cancer registry manager, Bonnie Burns, and coalition chair Dr. Michael Sarap accepted the award, a crystal trophy and a check for $10,000 to help continue the efforts of the coalition. The coalition and Southeastern Med received the award for their decade long efforts to improve colon cancer screening and decrease colon cancer cases in Southeastern Ohio. The group also recently was awarded a third place finish for the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable Blue Star Award for their efforts relating to colon cancer.

Past and present members of the Tina Kiser Cancer Concern Coalition are: Tina Kiser (In Memory); Dr. Sarap; Dr. Leslie; Dr. Paulick; Dr. O’Hanlon; Dr. Flanigan; Dr. Schubert; Dr. Eddy; Dr. Keller; Amy Magorien; Becky Wheeler, CTR; Bonnie Burns; Celeste Mnich; Debbie Leonard; Emily Diaz; Heather Stack; Jared Shepherd; Jennifer Howell; Kelli Koch; Leigh Anne Hehr; Ron Cobb; Sandy Black; Scott Robinson; Sharon Gay; Tami Linscott.

Nearly a decade ago, Southeastern Med and the local coalition began a program to improve education to the public and to primary care providers about the value of colon cancer screening. At that time, Guernsey County had a 60% late stage colon cancer rate, which was the second worst in the state of Ohio. In addition to the educational efforts, local surgeons and the hospital offered free colonoscopy screening exams to patients that were at risk and who could not pay for the procedures. Nearly 500 free colonoscopies have been provided since inception of the plan with the donated services estimated at $250,000. TKC3 also purchased a giant inflatable colon, which has been displayed for education purposes throughout the state of Ohio and even in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

These efforts decreased late stage colon cancer rates to 47% in the first 5 years and 37% in the last 5 years. In 2013 the rate was 23% and in 2014 the rate was an incredibly low 12% with only two late stage cases diagnosed. The Ohio county average for late stage colon cancer is 50%. Even more exciting is the recent decrease in total colon cancer cases. Over the last 11 years, Southeastern Med has diagnosed an average of 32 cases per year. In 2014 only 16 cases were found as a result of a decade of increased screening and colon polyp removal at colonoscopy.

These remarkable results are the result of a decade of incredible teamwork between the primary care community, local surgeons, Southeastern Med and community members who have encouraged friends, family and co-workers to get screened. The local cancer program at Southeastern Med, as a Commission on Cancer (CoC) Accredited facility, is able to provide proven state-of-the-art care for those individuals diagnosed with colon cancer. The local cancer program meets and exceeds all national quality benchmarks related to colon cancer screening and treatment. CoC national data reveals that 96% of local colon cancer patients choose Southeastern Med and the Cancer Team for their surgical, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

For more information on the Southeastern Med Colon Program and TKC3, or if you know someone who needs colon cancer screening and cannot afford it, contact Bonnie Burns at 435-8156.