For many advocates of those affected by pancreatic diseases, quality health care does not focus solely on the management of these conditions, but is also concerned with the treatment of each patient as a whole.
Guided by this philosophy, the National Pancreas Foundation (NPF) has set out to help patients with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer choose an optimal place to receive care by designating qualified healthcare facilities as NPF “Centers of Excellence.” All such centers receive this distinction for their multidisciplinary and “whole patient” approach to pancreatic disease treatment, as well as for their efforts to advance pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer research and promote a better understanding of these conditions.
To be awarded the NPF Center designation, facilities must submit to an extensive auditing process and fulfill the requirements set forth by a task force of field experts and patient advocates. The criteria for an NPF Pancreatitis Center includes:
- On-site access to a core multidisciplinary team consisting of a program director, at least two gastroenterologists, a pathologist with expertise in gastrointestinal disease, an interventional radiologist with gastroenterology expertise and at least two surgeons with experience in distal pancreatectomy.
- On-site access to specialists such as dietitians and nutritionists, medical psychiatrists and social workers.
- On-site initiatives such as pain management services, substance abuse prevention and cessation programs, islet autotransplantation programs and clinical trials.
The NPF also listed separate, yet similar criteria for pancreatic cancer centers, which include requirements such as two medical oncologists with expertise in pancreatic malignancies, a palliative care program and clinical trials for pancreatic cancer research.
“The newly designated NPF Centers will be of great benefit to the whole community,” says NPF Center Task Force member Christopher E. Forsmark, in a press release. “Having the NPF Center designation will help distinguish institutions whose focus is on patient-centered care, either for the treatment of their disease or to get an expert second opinion.”
The NPF also expressed hope that, in addition to contributing to the development of best practices, the centers will raise awareness for some of the foundation’s other endeavors and resources, such as the National Patient Registry and the Animated Pancreas Patient.
The foundation began accepting applications in April 2015, and since then, 37 facilities across 21 states and the District of Colombia have been recognized as NPF Pancreatitis Centers. A full list can be found on the foundation’s website
Applications for both NPF Pancreatitis Centers
and NPF Pancreatic Cancer Centers
are currently open. Interested facilities can apply online by filling out the appropriate audit form.