LEWISTON — Central Maine Healthcare officials hope a partnership with New England Cancer Specialists will lead to better care for patients at its three oncology centers. The partnership will go into effect Jan. 1, 2024, according to a news release Monday.

There are three branches of Central Maine’s oncology care: radiology, surgery and medical oncology. The agreement signed Nov. 16 stipulates that New England Cancer Specialists will manage the hospital system’s medical oncology practice and chemotherapy treatments, according to Central Maine President Steven Littleson.

New England Cancer Specialists is an oncology practice certified by the Association of Medical Oncology, the only one with such certification in Maine and New Hampshire, according to its website.

The partnership will make more medical oncologists available to patients, and they will help advise Central Maine oncologists, Littleson said. Medical oncologists are in high demand and those at New England Cancer Specialists are some of the best in the region, according to Littleson.

The contract also means that Central Maine patients will have access to more clinical trials and advanced chemotherapy drugs, expanding treatment options, he said. The organization is affiliated with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, giving Central Maine patients access to that organization as well.

Not a lot is expected to change from an operations standpoint, Littleson said. One Central Maine doctor and a few nurse practitioners will be employed by New England Cancer Specialists but will continue to work at Central Maine facilities. Central Maine’s staff  was not reduced because of the agreement. A couple more New England Cancer Specialists doctors will be working in Central Maine facilities.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for us to expand cancer care locally, that’s really what this means,” Littleson said. “Through this agreement we can ensure that we have access to state-of-the-art medical oncology on a consistent basis and through some of the most talented physicians offering cancer care in the state of Maine.”

Central Maine Health Ventures, a for-profit subsidiary of Central Maine Healthcare, also applied for a Certificate of Need through the Department of Health and Human Services stating its intention to purchase Spectrum Healthcare Partners’ share of Central Maine Orthopaedics Ambulatory Surgical Center. Central Maine and Spectrum Healthcare each own 50%. If the transfer is successful, Central Maine will own all shares in the facility.

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