St. Dominic's Cancer Program Receives Outstanding Achievement Award

The word cancer carries a tremendous impact, and rightly so. In the US, cancer is one of the leading causes of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Further establishing its reputation as a top provider for cancer care in Mississippi, St. Dominic Hospital's cancer program received the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS).  This award was earned by only 18% of cancer programs in the nation in 2009.  

This marks the first time St. Dominic's has been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award. "St. Dominic's is the only hospital in Mississippi and one of 82 healthcare facilities in 2009, to receive the prestigious recognition since inception of the award in 2004," said Bobby Graham, MD, 2010 Chairman of Oncology Services. There are 13 cancer programs in Mississippi accredited by the Commission on Cancer, and St. Dominic's is the first program in the state of Mississippi to ever receive this award.  

"As anyone who has had cancer or been involved in its treatment knows, cancer care is a very comprehensive process,"said Dr. Graham. "The CoC examines the entire cancer program, including the care given by oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, surgeons and professional staff.  This gives St. Dominic's patients vital information about each important aspect of our program and ultimately, their care and possibility of a full recovery."

CoC accreditation signifies St. Dominic's Cancer Program has exceeded the level of
compliance with standards representing five areas that make a successful program, including:

  • The clinical services provide state-of-the-art pre-treatment evaluation, staging, treatment and clinical follow-up for cancer patients seen at the facility for primary, secondary, tertiary or quaternary care.
  • The cancer committee leads the program through setting goals, monitoring activity, evaluating patient outcomes and improving care.
  • The cancer conferences provide a forum for patient consultation and contribute to physician education.
  • The quality improvement program is the mechanism for evaluating and improving patient outcomes.
  • The cancer registry and database is the basis for monitoring the quality of care.

By receiving the award, St. Dominic's has been determined to have fully complied with  all CoC standards and demonstrated commendation level compliance with one or more standards.  The standards for commendation rating, meaning the program has exceeded the standards for accreditation, are community outreach, clinical trial enrollment, staff education, patient care improvements, outcomes analysis and cancer registry quality, which is counted as two measures. There are more than 1,400 facilities that are accredited by the Commission on Cancer.

Dr. Graham added while St. Dominic's Cancer team is honored to receive the designation as one of the top cancer programs, to a cancer patient, it means much more. It allows them to know the quality of care throughout each step of their cancer journey has been judged to be the best in Mississippi.  

Mechale Mayfield, BS, RT (T), Director of St. Dominic's Cancer Center, agreed with Graham's assessment of the award's importance to patients, adding, "This designation as an outstanding cancer program gives patients access to information about quality generally not known by the public.  By earning this award, we had to demonstrate each step of care the patients go through adhere to a high standard of quality."

St. Dominic's Cancer Program is approved as a Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Program by the American College of Surgeons (ACoS).  This status is granted only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to provide the best in cancer diagnosis and treatment and are able to comply with established CoC standards.

While this designation is significant, earning the outstanding achievement award fully illustrates the cancer program's excellence in all areas, added Guangzhi Qu, MD a medical oncologist at St. Dominic's Cancer Center.

Dr. Qu, served as chairman of oncology services during two of the three years surveyed, said receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award is the culmination of several years of considerable effort and dedication.  Fewer than 18% of the programs surveyed nationally receive this prestigious award, making the cancer program's designation as one of the best in the nation even more significant.

"At St. Dominic's, we are dedicated to putting each patient above all other efforts, "Dr. Qu said. "Based on those principles, we continue to strive for the best care and treatment and to return the patient to a better quality of life. The award doesn't simply indicate excellence in one area, but all the individual pieces of cancer care are taken into consideration. Therefore, it was not surprising to learn we are doing the best in each and every area important to the patient."

According to Amy Sharpe, RN, MBA, OCN, Cancer Services Coordinator, receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award required a cohesive effort of all the different members of the cancer team who are responsible for the elements that make up the program, including:

  • Diagnostic (including clinical laboratory, diagnostic imaging and pathology)
  • Treatment (including medical oncology, radiation oncology and surgical procedures)
  • Other clinical areas (including clinical research, patient guidelines, oncology nursing and pain management)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Support (including counseling, discharge planning, hospice care, nutritional support, pastoral care and patient and family support)
  • Prevention (early detection and genetic counseling and testing)

While there are many different elements that must work together to make cancer care successful, Connie Shoemaker, RHIT, CTR, Cancer Registry Supervisor, believes it is the people who have served to make St. Dominic's cancer program successful.  "Physicians, staff and hospital administrators work together as a team to ensure the best level of cancer care,"Shoemaker said. "There is a pervasive culture of striving for success and superior outcomes for our patients. This award backs up our belief that caring for our patients wouldn't be optimal if the entire process wasn't outstanding."

But perhaps the most important element of St. Dominic's cancer program, Dr. Graham says, is patients' ability to access excellent care in their community.  "Our primary goal is to give patients quality cancer treatment and allow them to continue their lives without major interruptions," he said. "We provide an outstanding level of care in an easily accessible location, allowing patients to receive care in a center now ranked in the top 18% nationally."

St. Dominic's is a proven leader in providing effective cancer treatment through advanced technology, professional expertise and an exceptional level of personalized care. Please call 601-200-3300 or visit to find out more about St. Dominic's commitment to treating cancer.