When facing a cancer diagnosis, people seek leading-edge care in a comfortable and compassionate setting close to home.
Nebraska Cancer Specialists has a tradition of providing such care and recently added a new physician to its team.
Nebraska native Dr. Mary Huerter Wells is seeing patients in Fremont and Omaha.
Huerter Wells has completed her fellowship in medical oncology and hematology. She has a background in palliative medicine and a special interest in female cancers.
She has a personalized approach to providing care to patients, said Kelly Horn, physician liaison.
Huerter Wells acts as a partner to individuals diagnosed and spends the time to educate patients and their loved ones on the understanding of their diagnosis and choosing the right treatment plan that’s best for them.
In her biographical data, Huerter Wells’ personable attitude and sense of humor come to light when she says she “enjoys testing new recipes on unsuspecting loved ones and imagining what her dogs would say if they could talk.”
Huerter Wells has two stepsons and said she enjoys coercing her husband into playing board games.
Nebraska Cancer Specialists was started by Dr. Robert Langdon and Dr. Margaret Block in 1989. Since then, the practice has grown to include 12 medical oncologists, one radiation oncologist, one nuclear medicine physician, 14 nurse practitioners, three Physician Assistants and almost 200 devoted professionals operating at eight locations throughout the state — including the Fremont Health Park Plaza Medical Center at 450 E. 23rd St.
No matter which location a patient visits, they're cared for by a team consisting of a dedicated medical oncologist, advance practice provider, nurse case manager, medical assistant and scheduler.
Besides providing caring medical professionals, NCS continues to serve as a regional leader in cancer diagnosis, treatment and research. The research program, which has grown, conducts phase I-IV trials and has enrolled more than 200 patients in clinical trials in the last few years.
Currently, NCS has more than 100 active clinical research trials available.
“The focus of these research trials is to bring the latest anti-cancer therapies to the Midwest,” Horn said. “This program is a turning point for cancer patients in Nebraska, who will play a key role in accelerating cancer research, leaving a legacy for those that follow.”
Its Legacy NCS Early Phase Clinical Trials program helps advance cancer research while offering hope to patients facing the toughest cancer diagnoses.
“Legacy NCS provides the latest clinical trial drugs available to advanced-stage cancer patients, who do not respond well or are not expected to benefit from the available standard of care treatment substantially,” Horn said.
Horn points out the benefits of patient involvement in clinical trials.
“One of the best things about being on a research trial is you get an extra layer of compassionate care,” Horn said. “Not only are you working with your medical oncologist and their care team, you’re also working with a research team. You get a lot of extra care."
The NCS research team is comprised of dedicated research physicians, advanced practice providers, research nurses, data coordinators, a regulatory coordinator, research pharmacy technicians, research assistants, a research manager, and a research director.
Altogether, the team has combined more than 100 years of experience conducting clinical research trials.
Horn added that the research team can get a trial running in two weeks.
NCS continues to grow.
“Not only has Nebraska Cancer Specialists expanded its clinical research trials program, we’ve also added two new locations,” Horn said.
One is in the Think Whole Person Health Person Health Care at 71st and Center streets in Omaha, providing convenient access to current and future patients.
“Our focus is — and always has been — providing the highest level of patient care and the best experience,” Horn said.
Easy access to health care is key.
“We look forward to offering our patients this opportunity to receive services from Nebraska Cancer Specialists in a convenient location,” she said.
Think Whole Person Healthcare is a large, independent primary care clinic. The clinic provides a variety of services, such as primary care, orthopedic, oncology, physical therapy and other services, all in one location. The one-stop location works especially well for retired individuals.
NCS also has expanded its clinic at the Pender Community Hospital.
The clinics at Pender and in the Think Whole Person feature consultation appointments, follow-up visits, side-effect management, genetic counseling, nutrition services and referrals to NCS providers for mental health counseling, occupational therapy, financial advocates, social work and clinical trials.
And NCS has a clinic within the Whole Person Healthcare clinic. Dr. Joel Michalski and Dr. Nagendra Natarajan see patients at this clinic.
“We are looking forward to expanding our NCS footprint and to deliver the same level of advanced hematology and oncology care patients have come to know and trust,” Michalski said. “NCS provides extensive access to clinical trials, cutting-edge therapies and integrated healthcare services, which are essential components to treatment and recovery. With this expansion (into the Pender community and the Think Whole Person Clinic), we are able to provide care in a location that is convenient for our patients and their families,” Michalski said.
Dr. M. Salman Haroon, who sees patients in Fremont, is also seeing patients in Pender, Omaha and West Point.
Haroon points out the benefit of patients receiving personalized care and leading-edge treatments in their own neighborhood.
"Patients really need help not only medically, but emotionally, socially, financially — so there are a lot of aspects that go into it," he said.
Natarajan said it's important to focus on individualized care.
"In my practice, my goal is to educate every patient regarding their diagnosis, discuss standard and clinical trial treatment options and provide the personalized care they deserve," he said. "Here at NCS, I have the privilege to practice medicine and provide care as it was meant to be."
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