Website   |    Locations   |    Care Team   |   Careers   |   Contact Us
Minnesota Oncology News                                                                             August 2016
In This Issue
Upcoming Events & Support Groups

ACRMinnesota Oncology Earns American College of Radiology Accreditation

Minnesota Oncology is pleased to announce that our  Radiation Oncology program,  which includes both practices at our  Saint Paul Cancer Center and  Maplewood Cancer Center have been accredited by the  American College of Radiology (ACR). Minnesota Oncology currently represents two of the four ACR accredited Radiation Oncology facilities in the Twin Cities Metro area, and two of six in the entire state of Minnesota.

"We are proud of the commitment and dedication of the entire radiation oncology team at Minnesota Oncology who worked together to achieve this accreditation," said  Ellen Bellairs, MD, radiation oncologist in St. Paul and Maplewood.

The accreditation is the result of a great deal of effort on behalf of the radiation oncology teams in St. Paul and Maplewood as well as the support and leadership of administration. The team is made up of radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, physicists, dosimetrists, CT technologists, nurses, medical assistants, managers, operations and office staff.

"I am very proud and honored to be part of such a strong, dependable, and patient-centered team," said Joseph Kaiyalethe, chief radiation therapist at Minnesota Oncology.

The ACR accreditation program aims to provide impartial, third party, peer review; to recognize quality radiation oncology practices through accreditation; to make recommendations for improvement in practice and patient outcomes according to the recognized standards of the scientific community; and to provide a referral list for patients. On site surveys are performed by board-certified radiation oncologists and medical physicists. In addition, in order to verify that accredited facilities maintain consistent quality during the 3-year accreditation period, on site surveys may also be performed at any time during the accreditation period.

"In today's world, patients have access to a wealth of information and are very knowledgeable about health care issues," said Minnesota Oncology President Dean Gesme, MD. "They are continually seeking high-quality, appropriate care. ACR accreditation is widely recognized as a measure of quality care, and Minnesota Oncology is proud to have earned this endorsement."

All ACR accredited facilities are listed on the  ACR website.
Congratulations to Minnesota Oncology's Radiation Oncology Quality Improvement Team:

Warren McGuire, MD - Radiation Oncologist
Kathryn Farniok, MD - Radiation Oncologist
Ellen Bellairs, MD - Radiation Oncologist
Mark Palmer, MD - Radiation Oncologist
  Stephanie Krejcarek Childs, MD- Radiation Oncologist
Mustafa Ozer, MS, DABR- Chief Medical Physicist
Holly Chase, CMD, Dosimetrist Sr.
Mark Weis, CMD, Dosimetrist Sr.
Joseph Kaiyalethe, RTT - Chief Radiation Therapist
Marie DiBona, RTT, Lead Radiation Therapist
Roberta Perron, RN
Patty Thompson, Practice Administrator at Maplewood Cancer Center
Julie Tyren, Practice Administrator at Saint Paul Cancer Center
ThomesPepinMeet Our New Gynecologic Oncologist in September During a Facebook Live Event!

Jessica Thomes Pepin, MD
Minnesota Oncology is pleased to introduce our newest provider,  Jessica Thomes Pepin, M.D.  with the practice of Gynecologic Oncology at the  Woodbury Clinic .

As Dr. Thomes Pepin begins to care for our gynecologic oncology patients at our Woodbury location,  Dr. A. Catherine Casey will be transitioning her practice to our  Edina Clinic.

On Monday, September 19 beginning at 3:30 p.m., Dr. Thomes Pepin will answer questions about ovarian cancer via Facebook Live. Visit our Facebook Page to post your questions or send questions to and tune in on September 19!

Dr. Thomes Pepin received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, Minnesota. She completed a residency in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University and a fellowship at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Indiana, Indianapolis, Indiana. She was also the recipient of the Galloway Fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.

"Cancer care begins with the patient," Dr. Thomes-Pepin says. "My compassionate, patient-driven focus is to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art treatment of the highest quality nature. My goals are to utilize the latest evidence-based medicine, directed in a multi-disciplinary fashion to fully optimize each individual patient's oncologic outcome."

Dr. Thomes Pepin presented her research on Current trends in operative morbidity of groin lymph node dissections in vulvar cancer at the IGCS Biennial Conference in Vancouver, Canada and poster presentations at several conferences including the Society for Gynecologic Oncologists, the Western Association for Gynecologic Oncologists and the American Association of Cancer Research. She has written and co-authored several book chapters on translational advances in gynecologic cancer and the perioperative surgical care for patients with cancers of the female reproductive system.

Dr. Thomes Pepin is a Minnesota native from Arlington, Minn, southwest of the Twin Cities metro area. "My husband and I were overjoyed to be offered the opportunity to move back to our home state, so that we could provide medical care to the best of our abilities to the wonderful people of Minnesota," she said. "We love attending Twins games, Vikings games and other professional and amateur sporting events. We also enjoy spending time with our families in greater Minnesota."
RidgeviewRidgeview, Minnesota Oncology partner to form new Cancer & Infusion Center

Ridgeview Medical Center and Minnesota Oncology have announced that, effective Sept. 1, 2016, the two organizations will enter into a joint venture partnership and form a consolidated oncology services program with clinics conveniently located in Chaska and Waconia. This new, formal partnership strengthens the existing, long-term relationship between the two health care providers while providing the most comprehensive, convenient and highest quality of oncology/hematology and specialty infusion care in the region.

The new Minnesota Oncology & Ridgeview Cancer & Infusion Center will bring together competing services and clinics, and consolidate them into the two current Minnesota Oncology locations in Chaska (Lakeview Professional Building, 110105 Pioneer Trail, Suite 302) and Waconia (Ridgeview Professional Building, 560 S. Maple Street, Suite 100).

"Our collaboration with Ridgeview will allow us to provide the highest-quality, most cost-effective and streamlined care to patients with a cancer or blood disorder diagnosis," added Dean Gesme, MD, President of Minnesota Oncology.  Read more.
MarchofDimesSix Minnesota Oncology Nurses Nominated for March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award

Minnesota Oncology is pleased to announce that six of our nurses have been nominated for the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award in Oncology nursing.
The top five finalists for each category will be announced in the upcoming months.  Those finalists will receive free tickets to the awards ceremony on Oct. 14th where the award winner for each category will be announced.
Please join us in congratulating all of our nominees:

Linda Clementi - Fridley Clinic collab nurse
Hali Irwin - Minneapolis Clinic infusion nurse
Maria Nikle - Fridley Clinic infusion nurse
Anne Rabenn - Maplewood Cancer Center infusion nurse             
Becky Reed - Minneapolis collab nurse
Carrie Williams - Patient Support Services/My Choices My Wishes Program Coordinator  
DrJacquesThoracic Surgeon Dr. Louis Jacques Receives Patient Communication Award, Featured in US News & World Report

Dr. Louis Jacques, a thoracic surgeon from our Edina Clinic, was recently recognized for his expertise and patient care on a national level.

Dr. Jacques received a 2016 Patient Communication Award from Allina Health last month. He was given the Magna Award which means his communication expertise places him in the top 10 percent of clinicians in the United States.
According to the letter from Allina CEO Dr. Tim Sielaff, patient Communication Awards are given annually and are based on 12 months of patient survey data. The percentiles are based on the Press Ganey national database of more than 2 million surveys. 

"These awards do not just represent a number on the patient experience scale or a popularity content - they represent your patient's sense that they are known as unique individuals, how well they feel listened to, and how well they understand their medications and instructions," Dr. Sielaff wrote. "These are the reasons you went into medicine, to make a difference in the lives of your friends and neighbors. Your communication skills enable beneficial care outcomes for our patients through adherence to treatment plans and our financial viability through their willingness to recommend your care to their friends and family."
In addition to be presented with this award, Dr. Jacques also earned national media recognition this week:

The August issue of   U.S. News & World Report  featured an article on the topic of what patients should know about lung surgery. 
The article includes commentary from Dr. Louis Jacques on what to look for when choosing a surgeon and shares his advice on what kind of surgeon would be best qualified:

When choosing a surgeon for lung cancer surgery, your best bet is a surgeon whose practice is devoted specifically to lung operations, says Dr. Louis Jacques, a lung cancer surgeon with Minnesota Oncology, a practice in The US Oncology Network. A general thoracic surgeon is board-certified in cardiothoracic surgery, which includes the heart and lung. "But their only practice is basically lung - they don't do heart surgery," he says.
Having done a higher volume of lung procedures is a significant advantage, Jacques says. Also, he says, lung-focused surgeons tend to work within a well-established group involving medical oncologists, nursing coordinators, radiation therapists and pathologists, all collaborating on decisions and treatments as a multidisciplinary team.

Please see the full-text article with Dr. Jacques' contribution here.
NursingCertificationMN Oncology Nurses Obtain Oncology Nursing Certification
Carrie Williams and Sarah Kruell

Congratulations to Minnesota Oncology nurses Carrie Williams and Sarah Kruell on earning their Oncology Nursing Certification earlier this year.

Certified oncology nurses have proven their knowledge of cancer care by passing a test. The test is a hard one. It is meant to be hard so it will ensure that nurses who pass it have in-depth knowledge of cancer care. Before they can take the test, these nurses must have experience as cancer nurses. And, they must have completed educational programs where they learned more about cancer care.

We asked Carrie and Sarah to tell us more about what is means to be an oncology certified nurse. Click here to see what they had to say.
LottieCancer Survivor Writes the Story of Her Life

Lottie Virnig, a current patient at our Fridley Clinic, was first diagnosed with Fallopian Tube Cancer in 2011. Following her diagnosis, Lottie began treatment for cancer with Dr. Annie TanThroughout Lottie's treatments, she would tell stories about her childhood, grandparents, and her life as she grew into the person that she is today.

Lottie noticed that after telling a few stories to the nurses and staff at the clinic, she was soon getting requests to tell new stories at each treatment. Lottie recalls, "I never thought that I would get cancer, but how many times do we hear that?"

As Lottie continued her treatments, she realized that she had the potential to write down all of her stories for people to read.  "I just knew there were stories I needed to tell," she said. She began transferring her memories onto paper, she soon had enough stories to make a book. Read more.
A ngel After Hours 

Minnesota Oncology is proud sponsor Angel Foundation's  fall Angel After Hours event, a casual happy hour benefiting Angel Foundation

Kick back with a glass of wine or beer from 5-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22 at Warehouse Winery in Minneapolis. Enjoy food truck goodies by New Bohemia, Angel Foundation's signature punchboard (always the crowd favorite!) and a number of NEW games. All proceeds support Angel Foundation programs! Grab a friend and register early for the discounted ticket price of $35 (price increases to $40 at the door). Say goodbye to summer and raise your glass to fall, all while supporting local adults with cancer and their families.  Register now!
HOM Teal Strides for Ovarian Cancer to Attract Thousands to Walk, Run and Fundraise this September 

Minnesota Oncology Volunteers at Teal Strides 2015

The Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA) will mark its 17th year of strides against ovarian cancer at their annual HOM Teal Strides for Ovarian Cancer walk and run on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Rosland Park in Edina. MOCA, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to funding ovarian cancer research, also provides support for those affected by the disease and spreads awareness about the symptoms. Minnesota Oncology is proud to once again sponsor this event.
HOM Teal Strides for Ovarian Cancer is one of the largest ovarian cancer fundraising events in the country and, this year, MOCA is expecting their largest turnout for the event. Participants can sign up individually, register with a team or form a team for race day. Teams get customizable webpages to share their goals and raise funds with friends and family.   Learn more.
BlanketsMorrie's Minnetonka Subaru Donates 60 Blankets to Minnesota Oncology Patients

Scott Thomas (right), new car manager at Morrie's Minnetonka Subaru, delivered 60 blankets to Minnesota Oncology's Chaska Clinic in the Lakeview Medical Building on July 7. Patient ambassador Ken Bailey (left) and Minnesota Oncology advanced practice provider Alicia Wojchik, AOCNP, (center) accepted the blankets on behalf of cancer patients.

Subaru of America and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) have joined forces to provide much needed support and warmth to patients fighting cancer in the Chaska community and across the country.

Last month, Minnesota Oncology's Chaska Clinic in the Lakeview Professional Building at 110105 Pioneer Trail, accepted a donation of 60 blankets for cancer patients currently being treated at Minnesota Oncology clinics across the metro.

"We are grateful for this generous donation from Morrie's Subaru," said Alicia Wojchik, AOCNP, advanced practice provider at Minnesota Oncology's Chaska Clinic. "These beautiful blankets will be given as gifts to patients at our clinics to keep them comfortable as they undergo chemotherapy treatments."

See photos of our patients with their new blankets here.
LauraPatientStoryPatient Story: Laura Orfield-Skrivseth

Laura Orfield-Skrivseth and her family

Independence Day is typically a day of celebration including fireworks, barbecues, and spending time with loved ones. But when 39-year-old Laura Orfield-Skrivseth found a lump on her breast on the morning of July 4, 2015, the celebration was severely dampened.

Just two months prior, she had her annual physical including a mammogram, and the results had been clear. Finding a lump was clearly a surprise, but Laura decided to have it checked out. The next business day, she quickly scheduled a mammogram and biopsy. On July 9, 2015, she received the diagnosis of Stage II Breast Cancer.

As a relatively young, self-employed business owner with an entrepreneurial husband and three children ranging in age from 6 to 17, Laura says she has every reason in the world to beat cancer. From the moment of diagnosis, she says her goal was to do everything possible, in the shortest amount of time, to keep the cancer from spreading. 
ScrapbookSpecialScrapbooking My Journey - Special Saturday Event!

What: Scrapbooking My Journey | Special Saturday Event!
When: Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 | 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Where: Minnesota Oncolgy & VPCI - Unity Hospital
Fridley Medical Center
480 Osborne Road NE, Suite #200, Fridley, MN 55432 | Lobby

Scrapbooking is a wonderful way to reminisce on memories. Join us for a day of scrapbooking as we look back at your individual journey. Bring only yourself and photos or pictures for your scrapbook. Materials such as books, paper, and embellishments will be supplied. Continental breakfast, lunch and snacks are included!

This class is FREE and open to patients diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers. Registration is required. Please call 763-236-5607.
NotesofHope2nd Annual Notes of Hope Variety Show to Benefit Angel Foundation Coming Sept. 18

Notes of Hope is the 2nd annual musical variety show organized by Minnesota Oncology infusion nurse and cancer survivor Yana Reko to benefit Angel Foundation, a Minnesota-based 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2001  to provide adult cancer patients and their families emergency financial assistance, education and support throughout their journey of healing and survivorship. Through financial grants, children's programs, family retreats, and other outreach events, they not only strengthen the cancer patient and his/her family, but the cancer warrior community as a whole. 

Among featured artists this year are several local musicians, a Klondike Kate, the After 5 Jazz Vocal Ensemble, and Dr. Stuart Bloom, a recovering Broadway veteran who moonlights as medical director at Minnesota Oncology's Minneapolis Clinic. The show is family-friendly, and is primarily music with some light comedy, but we are currently finalizing our performer lineup, so stay tuned for updates! 

Light refreshments will be provided. A suggested $10 per person donation is encouraged, and every penny goes to Angel Foundation. Please make checks payable to Angel Foundation. 

Join us at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 at Richfield United Methodist Church, 5835 Lyndale Ave. S. in MInneapolis, as we share music, stories, a few tears and many laughs while raising money for those trying to live their lives while fighting to stay alive!