Pembroke Pines, FL - Melvin Feliciano was a leukemia patient facing an uncertain future.
Desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant, the Miami resident and his family were unable to travel out of the region for the time required for the procedure and recovery, but no medical facility close to home offered the necessary treatment.
Feliciano didn’t know it at the time, but a clinical partnership between the Tampa-based Moffitt Cancer Center and Memorial Healthcare System in South Florida was about to save his life.
The alliance established Moffitt Malignant Hematology and Cellular Therapy, a comprehensive blood and marrow transplant, and cellular therapy program with Moffitt’s physicians now practicing at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines. The alliance also brings the renowned cancer center’s access to research, clinical trials, and model of care to local leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma patients. It is the first time Moffitt has expanded beyond its roots in the Tampa Bay area.
The partnership with Memorial, one of the nation’s largest public healthcare systems, is already paying dividends just months after it was finalized, with Feliciano being the unit’s first haploidentical allogenic bone marrow transplant recipient. The procedure enabled the leukemia patient to receive healthy stem cells from his brother, a genetically similar, but not identical, donor.
“We’re changing the way blood cancers are being treated in South Florida by bringing all of our considerable resources to the region,” said Hugo Fernandez, MD chair and medical director of Moffitt Malignant Hematology and Cellular Therapy at Memorial Healthcare System. “There are many advantages to patients being treated close to home, including access to family and friends, less travel, and expense.”
In addition to Dr. Fernandez, Moffitt-employed hematologist/oncologists at Memorial Hospital West include Marco A. Ruiz, MD, Yehuda E. Deutsch, MD, and Jose Sandoval-Sus, MD. Advanced registered nurse practitioners from Moffitt also staff the unit, which will provide services of blood and marrow transplant and malignant hematology as well as those related to molecular diagnostics, personalized medicine, and hematopathology.
Rounding up the Moffitt team are Memorial Hospital West care team members, which include pharmacists, nurses, social workers and case managers, to name a few.
A shared culture that focuses on patient and family-centered care has also been a key to the early success of the venture, a point that was emphasized at a recent ribbon-cutting event that attracted dignitaries from Florida’s House of Representatives and leaders from both Moffitt and Memorial.
Speakers at the celebration included former Speaker of the House H. Lee Moffitt, Representative Jose R. Oliva, Moffitt CEO and President Alan F. List, and Aurelio M. Fernandez III, FACHE, president and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System.