With more than 35 years of service in Dodge City, Cancer Center of Kansas is making a change to its radiation treatment offerings in the local clinic.

According to Cancer Center of Kansas chief legal officer Laura Monahan, on Aug. 31, the Cancer Center of Kansas in Dodge City will discontinue its radiation services.

"With the amount of changes and challenges with regulations and the change in landscape with technology, management and regulatory, lots of complicated challenges with radiation services wasn't allowing us to give the same level of excellence to patients," Monahan said. "It became not feasible to keep going."

Despite the radiation services being discontinued, the clinic is remaining open and offering everything with medical oncology.

"The Dodge City location was renovated two years ago and the rumors of the clinic outright closing are simply not true," Monahan said. "With the discontinuation, we will be able to remain vibrant in all other areas of service — it was just that the focus of radiation services we couldn't keep up with."

Rural health has become more a concern being addressed by the medical community and city and county officials in the area.

Studies have shown that within the 28 counties in southwest Kansas, shortages of medical professionals are at below-average levels.

The study was provided during the ongoing negotiations on bringing in the University Center in Dodge City that will provide mid-level college courses for the medical field.

"We are continuing our efforts in advocating in rural areas to make things easier for everyone," Monahan said. "We are aware that by the discontinuing radiation services, patients will now need to seek services outside of their community. The services offered over the past 20 years was a convenience and unfortunately because it is another specialty, we were unable to continue.

"We don't need funding and are not making a plea to anyone. The Dodge City clinic is one of the few that has a full-time nurse practitioner on-site five days a week.

"Oncology is the fastest moving in terms of advancement in the medical field and we will continue to offer that to patients."

According to Dr. Shaker Dakhil, medical oncologist and president of Cancer Center for Kansas, some of the issues with maintaining radiation services began over the past 10 years with changes in insurance coverage, especially Medicare.

"They told us that a medical physician needed to be in the office with a patient in order to pay for the treatments," he said. "With all the technology available to us, I am able to meet with patients across the country and the globe. I can speak with a patient in India if I am needed, but Medicare wouldn't cover it."

Dakhil added the Dodge City clinic was the first of the Cancer Center for Kansas clinics to open outside Wichita, where it is headquartered.

"We were the first practice in the country to take the treatment to the patient instead of the patient to the treatment," he said.

With the forcing of Medicare to have physicians be in-house, Dakhil said that took away services for patients throughout the state.

"We were having lesser services than in Wichita," he said. "Patient care trumps convenience, so we were unable to maintain the services for radiation and we had to let it go."

Cancer Center of Kansas in Dodge City, is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 116 W. Ross Blvd.

For an appointment, call the local office at 620-227-2482.

 

To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.