Dana-Farber Cancer Institute highlights need for hospital dedicated to cancer patients at DPH hearing

Posted date

With rising cancer rates, the only dedicated inpatient cancer hospital in the region will improve care, advance access and equity, and lower costs

Community leaders, health experts, patients and elected officials also testified in support of the future hospital

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute tonight testified at a Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) hearing highlighting the need to build the region’s only independent, dedicated inpatient hospital for adult cancer patients.

Dana-Farber and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center first announced plans for a collaboration in September 2023, designed to transform the future patient experience by providing better health outcomes, more cost-effective care, and expanded access and equity. The announcement included a new hospital that will be owned and operated by Dana-Farber.

During the hearing, community leaders, health experts, patients, and elected officials testified in support of the center that will be solely focused on cancer care.

With cancer incidences rising at alarming rates in Massachusetts and across the country, those testifying stressed the many benefits of the new cancer-only hospital, including: improving health outcomes for patients, increasing access with a proposed 300 additional beds in the facility, lowering costs, and advancing equity.

“At Dana-Farber, patients have always been at the heart of all that we do. This new hospital will offer a strong sense of hope that all patients and their loved ones are looking for when they hear the news that they have cancer,” said Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, president and CEO of Dana-Farber. “This dedicated cancer hospital is the future of cancer care in our region. We will be positioned to provide every patient with the world-class care they deserve while making it more accessible and equitable for all.”

Benefits to Patients
Independent studies have shown patients in dedicated cancer centers have better outcomes and a better patient experience than those cared for in general hospitals. There is an acute need for more inpatient beds for cancer patients in the state. Every state in the nation is expected to see double digit growth in cancer incidence, and in Massachusetts, cancer incidence is projected to be nearly 28 percent higher this year than 2020. Additionally, as new groundbreaking treatments are developed, investment is needed in the care model and infrastructure to ensure patients have access to the most advanced care. The proposed 300-bed hospital will help the region keep pace with the increasingly alarming growth of cancer incidence rate and assure new treatment models are available to all.

Increasing Access and Equity
This collaboration will provide equitable and accessible world class cancer care to the region — including expanding initiatives with underserved neighborhoods and community health centers that are already aligned with Dana-Farber and BIDMC. It will strengthen our ability to design programs that remove barriers to treatment and assure that all patients have access to clinical trials and high-quality cancer care. This includes initiatives like Dana-Farber’s Patient Navigator programs that ensure patients have the resources and support they need to get to their appointments and access services.

Lowering Health Care Costs
The clinical collaboration between Dana-Farber and BIDMC will allow patients to receive care from world-class, integrated, cross-disciplinary teams without the costly duplication of care and services. Today, BIDMC provides high quality care at 23% lower cost than other large hospitals in Boston. Dana-Farber’s acuity-adjusted average commercial prices for inpatient care are substantially below other providers. Additionally, over the last two years, Dana-Farber piloted an acute care outpatient clinic for patients that resulted in a 20% reduction in hospital admissions through the emergency room.

Hospital leaders testifying this evening included:  

Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH
Chief Clinical Access and Equity Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
“At Dana-Farber we firmly believe that everyone – no matter their zip code – deserves the best possible cancer care. We know that patients from communities that have been marginalized and underserved have faced too many barriers to cancer services that can be lifesaving – services like education, screening, prevention, treatment, and access to clinical trials. Our commitment to equitable cancer care and outcomes is at the core of our plans for our future hospital and collaboration with BIDMC. This collaboration will advance access to cancer care and help close health equity gaps in the communities that need it most.”

Craig A. Bunnell, MD, MPH, MBA
Chief Medical Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
“At Dana-Farber, our sole focus is cancer, which means that all we do is treat cancer. According to validated, published data, patient outcomes—and by outcomes, I mean survival—are better for cancer patients treated in a dedicated cancer hospital than those who receive care in an integrated general hospital setting. When all your physicians and medical teams are focused on cancer, when all your nurses are oncology trained—something that doesn’t currently exist in any hospital in New England, much less Boston—when your entire focus is on care of the cancer patient, you are familiar with the disease, its treatments, and its side effects. You see things others miss.”

Anne Gross, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Chief Nursing Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
“Dana-Farber is the only institution in the region focused exclusively on cancer research and care, and the only one equally balancing research and patient care. As the incidence of various cancer diseases continues to rise at alarming rates, it’s imperative that Boston meets the need for more inpatient beds for patients with cancer. I am confident that a new stand-alone cancer inpatient hospital will ensure the best possible patient experience, expand access, and provide more cost-effective care—resulting in the highest quality cancer care for our community, now and for generations to come.”

William C. Hahn, MD, PhD
Executive Vice President and the Chief Operating Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
“We recognize that a freestanding cancer hospital requires close integration and the expertise of a comprehensive academic medical center. Our close physical proximity to and new clinical affiliation between Dana-Farber and BIDMC means that patients will continue to have the expertise of some of the world's best non-oncology, medical, and surgical clinicians available. As they do today, Dana-Farber patients will be able to seamlessly coordinate sophisticated multidisciplinary care delivered by a number of different specialists, both within oncology and other areas for our cancer patients.”

Pete Healy
President of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Divisional President, Metro Boston, Beth Israel Lahey Health
“It’s more important than ever to invest in expanding equitable access to world-class cancer care. Through our partnership with Dana-Farber, our teams of clinicians and researchers share a commitment to addressing health inequities and will work together to bring the most advanced cancer care to all patients. We’re excited for the opportunity to join with Dana-Farber to bring a new level of dedicated cancer service to the region.”

Alexa B. Kimball, MD, MPH, President and CEO of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC
“A dedicated cancer center would bring access to cutting-edge research and the latest clinical trials to patients in Boston and beyond. The next generation of cancer treatments and cures is out there, waiting to be discovered. We know our patients and their families are waiting too.”

News Category
Dana-Farber Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Collaboration

Media Contacts

If you are a journalist and have a question about this story, please call 617-632-4090 and ask to speak to a member of the media team, or email media@dfci.harvard.edu.

The Media Team cannot respond to patient inquiries. For more information, please see Contact Us.