Two Great Minds, Two Great Facilities: Teaming Up to Fight Cancer

Dr. Ora Gordon, executive medical director of Providence Saint John’s Cancer Institute (SJCI) and clinical director of the population genomics program, recently met with Lynda Baxter, MBA, MPH, the new executive director for Providence Saint John’s Cancer Institute and the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center (DFCC) at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. Together, they reveal their inspiring and collective vision of cancer care leveraging shared resources.

With such leaders bringing together the best of the Saint John’s Cancer Institute, including its robust molecular and genetics capabilities, a massive specimen repository that spans decades since 1971, and the exemplary care offered at DFCC at Saint Joseph, they have started the process of understanding how to increase our combined care potential with improved access to clinical services and trials among health centers.

“I remember when I was thinking about this role and what it would mean to partner with you, and what I thought about was your vision and your passion.”

– Lynda Baxter, MBA, MPH

Dr. Gordon explains how much she appreciates the shared collaboration, knowing that great cancer programs involve shared leadership, striking a balance between clinical insight in medical oncology with operational excellence and best practices. Such programs have a greater potential to bring clinical trials into focus, offering the community improved access to leading research that would otherwise be unavailable locally. Dr. Gordon places significant emphasis on new programs such as MCED (Multi-Cancer Early Detection), which can help promote early cancer detection and prevention, thereby reducing the burden on the patient and health systems. MCED can detect up to 50 types of cancer and their origin in the body from a single blood draw.

“How do we find patients at risk and once we find them we can get them into clinical trials? We can get them into early
detection tests. We can offer them things that nobody else can.”

– Dr. Ora K. Gordon

Leaders discuss their shared vision and collaborative goals for cancer

Dr. Ora Gordon welcomes the new executive director, Lynda Baxter, to Saint John Health Center and the cancer institute.

Regional Potential for Improved Care and Access

Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Saint Joseph Medical Center both maintain robust cancer centers, each supporting several centers of excellence, highly experienced clinicians and surgeons, and ongoing clinical trials. The Saint John’s Cancer Institute, with its 30-plus-year legacy as the John Wayne Cancer Institute under the late Donald L. Morton, and his early breakthroughs in melanoma, breast cancer, and immunotherapy, becomes more accessible to the Disney Family Cancer Center at Saint Joseph.

“We’re going to have the ability to accelerate discovery into care delivery for everybody.”

– Lynda Baxter, MBA, MPH

Our acclaimed scientists, including Dave Hoon, Ph.D, and Matias Bustos, Ph.D., have elevated the institute with the help of peers and attending fellows, commanding countless national research publications and purposeful grants, becoming a powerful arm for DFCC. As such, the equation of care becomes regional, spanning Southern California from the San Fernando Valley to West Los Angeles while serving Santa Monica, Venice, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and other proximal cities, where patients prefer innovative and critical care closer to home. Dr. Gordon praises the capabilities of the Saint John’s Health Center and staff, having received dozens of nationally established awards and accolades, which is quite an unusual achievement for a community hospital.

“What I want to do is bring those two sides of the house together. I see us as being able to grow our cancer program, and not only just here in Santa Monica, but to leverage everything that we’re doing together, to be able to serve our community at large with the very best practices.”

– Dr. Ora K. Gordon

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About the Authors

David Austin,