Regional cancer task force aims to increase accessibility of cancer care in southwest Riverside County

TEMECULA – Accessibility to cancer care for cancer patients in southwest Riverside County is being evaluated by a Regional Cancer Services Task Force comprised of elected officials and representatives from Riverside County, cities of Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Temecula, Wildomar and Canyon Lake, as well as Riverside County Public Health, the Riverside University Health System, Temecula Valley Hospital, Loma Linda Medical Center, Menifee Valley Medical Center, Inland Empire Health Plan, University of California Riverside School of Medicine, Scripps Health, Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center, American Cancer Society and local oncologists.

Despite the growing cancer care options in southwest Riverside County, cancer patients are finding themselves traveling long distances to receive treatment options that are not readily available in this region. Some patients are forced to travel over 100 miles to receive the proper care, causing immense stress during an already difficult time.

Initiated by the city of Temecula, the Cancer Task Force strives to understand what gaps exist in local cancer care and what can be done to ease the burden of suffering on cancer patients and their loved ones. The task force aims to ensure that obstacles to obtaining excellent cancer care for patients are minimized as much as possible.

“Our Valley has grown tremendously along with the availability of quality health care and cancer treatment options,” Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards said. “But many residents faced with a cancer diagnosis still drive several hours for specialized treatment. The task force was formed in partnership with six cities, the county, IEHP, nonprofit organizations and health care leaders throughout southwest Riverside County to gather information on the availability of local specialized cancer treatment and resources. This was done in an effort to ease the burden on local cancer patients and their caregivers.”

To better understand the state of cancer care in the region, the task force is conducting two surveys. The survey designed for cancer patients, survivors, and/or their caregivers is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SW-Riv-Cancer-Community. The survey designed for health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, lab techs, etc. is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SW-Riv-Cancer-Provider.

“These surveys will gather valuable information that will help us to better understand how cancer treatment can be improved in our region,” Dr. Jenna LeComte-Hinely, the task force facilitator, said. Results will be used to document and prioritize needs, and to lay the groundwork for efforts to address these issues.

Anyone who lives in southwest Riverside County, including Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, Temecula, Wildomar, Canyon Lake and the surrounding unincorporated county areas, who has had cancer, been a caregiver for someone with cancer or who works in the health profession in the region is encouraged to take the survey. Surveys are available online and in paper format at various locations until the end of September. Anyone with questions or concerns about the survey should contact HARC, the nonprofit research organization that’s been retained to conduct the study at [email protected].

The surveys are completely confidential, and participants are given the option to enter a drawing to win one of five $100 Visa cards.

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