Hackensack University Medical Center Collaboration Enhances Cancer Care Experience for Older Patients

Oncology and Geriatric Specialists from Two Leading Hospitals Coordinate Multispecialty Care for New Jersey Patients

Cancer Care Older Adults

Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) is collaborating with the division of Geriatrics at Hackensack University Medical Center to help meet the specialized needs of older New Jersey adult residents undergoing cancer care.

For senior patients treated for cancer at MSK who live in New Jersey and do not have primary care, referral for geriatrics primary care needs are now arranged with Hackensack University Medical Center. Coordination of care also includes referrals for transitions of care post hospitalization and completion of cancer treatments closer to home.

Seamless, proactive communication is the program’s hallmark. The MSK care team sends patient information to Hackensack University Medical Center physicians when initiating the referral. After a patient is seen, Hackensack University Medical Center physicians share information about the patient's care in New Jersey with MSK doctors.

“Older adults with cancer face unique challenges. They frequently have multiple complex medical conditions. There may be an increased risk of drug reactions, financial burdens, lack of home support, and caregiver stress,” explains Manisha Parulekar, M.D., Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center. “As a result, they are often not considered for aggressive treatments based on their age and comorbidities, and they may not be receiving the most effective therapies — which they may be able to tolerate.”

“Many older patients take several medications for a variety of ailments, such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol,” adds Donna McNamara, M.D., JTCC medical oncologist. “While there may be some interactions between their regular medications and anticancer drugs, the optimal choice of treatment needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. This requires close collaboration between geriatric care providers and cancer care providers, which forms the basis of these programs. By carefully assessing each patient, we can customize the best plan of care to meet their needs.”

The collaboration also includes a medical education component, with opportunities for geriatric fellows and other trainees at Hackensack University Medical Center to participate in elective rotation, interdisciplinary conferences, lectures and communication workshops at MSK.

Learn more about how we are optimizing geriatric care at Hackensack University Medical Center.

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