UPHS - Marquette Team Visits Duke to Strengthen Neuro-Oncology Program

April 4, 2016

(MARQUETTE) A UP Health System – Marquette delegation of caregivers from the Brain and Spine Center and the Cancer Center recently traveled to Duke University in Durham, NC, to strengthen and expand the connection with Duke as a part of UPHS-Marquette’s affiliation with Duke Health in cancer.

The medical team delegation was led by UPHS – Marquette neurosurgeon Dr. Sonia Geschwindt and Cancer Center Director Dr. Philip Lowry.
“We’ve been steadily working on ways to dynamically connect our group with the Duke team,” explained Dr. Lowry. “We want to be continually tapping into the knowledge and capability of the Duke team as a part of our cancer affiliation.”
Neurosurgeon Dr. Geschwindt deals with cancerous tumors in the brain or spine and is working closely with Dr. Lowry to bond the neurosurgery and oncology programs at UPHS – Marquette.
Dr. Lowry said, “We recognize these days that cancer care must optimally be multi-disciplinary. Both the cancer and neurosurgery programs at Duke are recognized worldwide for excellent treatment and research. We want to model our care in Marquette on the Duke program and keep closely tied to it to assure we are giving our patients cutting-edge care.”
Dr. Geschwindt added, “My goal is to build a neuro-oncology brain tumor center of excellence at UP Health System. Our current program is regionally quite strong. But tapping into Duke’s experience and expertise will help bring us to a level unheard of in most rural settings.”
As an affiliate of Duke Health in cancer, the UPHS-Marquette team works closely with the Duke Cancer Network on program development and enhancement by defining best practices in cancer care while improving quality.  UPHS-Marquette has access to evidence-based guidelines and practices, staff education, CME/CE provided by Duke physicians and clinicians as well as ongoing research support.  During the recent Duke visit, Dr. Lowry and Dr. Geschwindt met with Dr. Allan Friedman, a Duke neurosurgeon and deputy director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center.
Also traveling to Duke from UPHS was pathologist Dr. Jeff Conklin; Brian Rasmussen, UPHS chief physicist; and Beth Schloegel, Oncology Services program director. While at Duke,  Dr. Conklin spent time with Dr. Roger McLendon Chief, Duke Neuropathology & Surgical Pathology.
Brian Rasmussen participated in a two day preceptorship with the Duke physics team and completed the Duke University End-to-End SBRT (Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy) Hands-On Training Course
The entire delegation team met with world-renowned Duke neuro-oncologist Dr. Henry Friedman and Dr. John Kirkpatrick, a Duke radiation oncologist who specializes in the treatment of brain tumors. The delegation also met with research staff, mid-levels, hospitalists specializing in inpatient neurology patients, rehab staff and palliative care staff. Team members were invited to reach out to the Duke brain tumor team to discuss programmatic strategy and Dr. Geschwindt and Dr. Allen and Henry Friedman have a process in place to discuss patient treatment strategies. 
“We studied their overall team approach,” explained Schloegel. “We looked at technologies, techniques and work flow. They have really sophisticated interaction between their team members, and at UPHS we are going to be able to implement a lot of what we saw and learned.”
Dr. Geschwindt and Dr. Lowry stressed that the goal is to build increasingly strong ties with Duke colleagues, and to thus better define the components of constructing a state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary cancer center in the Upper Peninsula by using neuro-oncology as a model to expand to all aspects of cancer care.