A $4.5 million gift from the Huntsman family will fund an expansion of a unique program at Huntsman Cancer Foundation at the University of Utah that brings specialty cancer care directly to patients in their homes, according to a statement from the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
With this major gift, HCF’s Huntsman at Home program will expand to rural Utah, including Grand, Carbon, and Emery counties.
The goal is to provide cancer care for patients who live far from the institute in Salt Lake City by partnering with patients and their caregivers, communities, and medical teams to deliver many aspects of cancer care in a patient’s own home as an alternative to hospital visits at a medical center or emergency department.
The rural expansion announcement follows the first evaluation of Huntsman at Home, reported last month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. Selected as a major presentation at the international meeting where the latest findings in cancer care are shared, HCI scientists detailed an analysis that showed Huntsman at Home patients had improved outcomes and reduced medical costs compared to a control group of cancer patients who did not participate in Huntsman at Home, according to the institute.
Huntsman at Home launched in 2018 and is currently exclusive to patients living within a 20-mile radius of HCI’s flagship hospital on the campus of the University of Utah. The recent gift announcement allows Huntsman at Home to dramatically expand its reach. Huntsman at Home services range from symptom management to acute medical, post-surgical, and end-of-life care. The Huntsman at Home team includes HCI nurse practitioners and oncologists. It is operated in partnership with Community Nursing Services, a home health and hospice agency. Working with CNS staff, the team provides registered nurses, nursing aids, social workers, and physical therapists. All aspects of care are done in consultation with the patient’s medical oncologist at HCI.
“Cancer patients and their family caregivers are often thrust into a challenging environment of managing complicated treatments, symptoms and more,” said John Ward, MD, HCI physician-in-chief and professor of internal medicine at the U of U. “We are grateful for the opportunity to determine how we can better serve our rural communities by bringing the Huntsman touch to patients in their own homes.”
The expansion will occur later this year and it is possible thanks to the major gift from the Huntsman family via the Huntsman Foundation. “Our family foundation has decided to add this support in addition to our previous commitments. This is a program designed to combine home care with the latest care and research from Huntsman Cancer Institute,” said Peter R. Huntsman, CEO of Huntsman Foundation and chairman and CEO of Huntsman Cancer Foundation. “In treating certain cases of cancer, this should allow care to be more personalized to the needs of the patient.”
The gift from the Huntsman Foundation and support from other donors is critical to drive this initiative forward, said a press release from the organization. “This type of sophisticated cancer home care is not fully covered by insurance plans. We are hopeful this expansion to rural patient homes, as well as the early promising results of the Salt Lake City Huntsman at Home project, will provide compelling evidence for the need for insurance plans to cover this type of care for cancer patients,” said Kathleen Mooney, PhD, HCI cancer population scientist and distinguished professor of nursing at the U of U. Mooney leads research evaluation efforts for Huntsman at Home.
Carbon, Emery, and Grand counties were selected for the Huntsman at Home expansion project following input from HCI and CNS clinicians, evaluation of Utah’s cancer burden, and conversations with community organizations and elected officials in these areas. Project leaders anticipate this rural expansion will provide valuable insights that will complement the ongoing work to evaluate the impact of this program in our urban Salt Lake City setting. Huntsman at Home is expected to be implemented in the three counties by the end of 2020. The addition of these counties will add 9,500 square miles to the service area of Huntsman at Home.
“Huntsman Cancer Institute is committed to ensuring that we bring the exceptional care of our National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center to people where they live,” said Mary Beckerle, PhD, HCI CEO. “Huntsman at Home does just that.”