Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Georgia CORE awarded a HRSA grant to bring cancer care to rural Georgia

9/07/2023, Georgia CORE

In late August, Georgia CORE received notice that it was awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration grant titled, "Achieving Health Equity for Rural Cancer Patients through Navigation, Care Coordination, and access to Clinical Trials in Southeast Georgia." Georgia CORE joined St. Joseph’s/Candler and the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion (LCRP) in Savannah and Wayne Memorial Hospital in Jesup to apply for and now receive $300,000 per year for four years. The goal of the program is to reduce treatment delays while increasing access to advancements in treatments, clinical trials, and multidisciplinary care leading to improvements in survival for cancer patients in rural communities. 

“Over the course of the four-year award, our program will improve the quality of cancer services in these communities,” said Georgia CORE’s Chief Scientific Officer Sheryl Gabram, MD, MBA, FACS. “Given it is known that rural cancer patients are at higher risk for shortened survival rates due to a lack of access to a comprehensive oncology infrastructure, we are ecstatic to have been awarded this grant with St. Joseph’s/Candler and Wayne Memorial in Southeast Georgia.”

The service area for the program is primarily Wayne and Appling Counties with six additional counties of Bacon, Brantley, Jeff Davis, Pierce, Tattnall, and Toombs included based on patient referrals into the Wayne Memorial Oncology Infusion Service. Target patients are newly diagnosed cancer patients clinically managed through rural medical oncology practices in Jesup and Baxley. The population in the area is nearly 165,000 having an average annual rate of 908 new cancers with incidence rates higher than state rates for lung and colorectal cancers. 

“This project will immediately impact the lives of newly diagnosed patients within the area,” said Jeyanthi Ramanarayanan, MD of St. Joseph’s/Candler and LCRP. “Patient navigation services and coordinated care reduce the time to treatment, create seamless transitions to tertiary cancer centers, and address social determinants of health that pose barriers to timely and quality care.”
Dr. Gabram added, “Over the long term, we will increase access to clinical trials, as well as the sharing of evidence-based practices designed to reduce rural disparities in cancer care. By working closely with the statewide association Cancer Patient Navigators of Georgia, we anticipate replicating this project in similar communities across Georgia.”
Dr. Gabram recently visited the partner sites and staff. Pictured left is Dr. Gabram with Marcus Nesbitt, MHA, Practice Administrator and Jeyanthi Ramanarayanan, MD of St. Joseph’s/Candler’s Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion at Wayne Memorial Hospital. Pictured above is Mr. Nesbitt, Dr. Gabram, and Candra Murray, RN, OCN, Infusion Services Manager. 

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