ChristianaCare says it may be the first to add primary care at a cancer center | Delaware First Media
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ChristianaCare says it may be the first to add primary care at a cancer center

May 13, 2021

ChristianaCare is starting to offer primary care treatment to patients at its cancer center.

A recent survey of cancer patients at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center found about 30 percent did not have a primary care provider.

For weeks now, a nurse practitioner has offered primary care treatment to patients there with the goal of eventually embedding a primary care physician at the Center. 

The Center’s Director Dr. Nicholas Petrelli says this is a unique model for care.

“Looking at the literature and calling some of my colleagues across the country at cancer centers, I believe we’re the first,” said Petrelli. “We’ll certainly find out with the press that we’re getting, but I believe we’re the first to actually put a primary care physician physically present in a cancer center.”  

Petrelli says, among other things, it is making treatment more convenient for patients.

“That patient, if they want to, can actually see their primary care on the same day, or on a day that’s convenient for them where they can come back, maybe on another visit to the cancer center. It may not be an extra visit. It may be when they’re coming back for further evaluation or to continue their treatment,” he said.  

Petrelli adds offering primary care at the Center will allow for the treatment of any other chronic conditions a patient might have, and will increase communication between oncologists and primary care physicians.

The new primary care practice builds on an urgent care program at the Center, which has treated more than 1,500 patients with acute care needs since its start in 2018.

The family nurse practitioner sees patients by referral, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to noon, with plans to eventually expand hours.