Mass General Brigham CEO downplays Dana-Farber split

Mass General Brigham President and CEO Anne Klibanski, MD, shared a muted reaction to longtime affiliate Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's decision to partner with another Boston health system for cancer care in a recent op-ed with the Boston Globe

On Sept. 14, Dana-Farber and Beth Israel Deaconess announced plans to construct a freestanding inpatient cancer hospital in Boston. The news marked a departure from the city's current cancer care landscape, in which Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital act as longtime partners. The two have been clinically affiliated since 1997 and their current agreement runs through 2028. News of the break-up was reportedly a surprise to Brigham executives. 

Dr. Klibanski, CEO of Brigham and Women's parent system Mass General Brigham, is taking a neutral public-facing position on the city's cancer care dynamics, noting that the only competition she is aware of is that of cancer itself. 

"Dana-Farber recently announced that it has chosen to end this affiliation in five years," Dr. Klibanski wrote in an op-ed for the Boston Globe. "What this means for patients is that the Brigham, and all of Mass General Brigham, will be there to provide cancer services and support, no matter where they live. We will continue to be the ones patients can trust with the most important surgery and medical treatment of their lives following a cancer diagnosis." 

She details the size and reach of Mass General Brigham's integrated cancer care between two academic medical centers in her editorial, with more than 23,000 cancer surgeries, 170,000 radiation oncology treatments and 70,000 infusions completed each year. 

"We will continue to provide hundreds of inpatient beds dedicated to cancer care, even after the 30 beds currently licensed by Dana-Farber are transferred," Dr. Klibanski noted, pledging that the systems' "thousands of doctors and researchers" remain committed to comprehensive cancer care. 

Dana-Farber estimates that the freestanding cancer hospital it will construct in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston will cost $1.68 billion. The hospital will have 300 beds and connect to Dana-Farber's existing facility in Boston's Longwood Medical Area. 

"Building a cancer-only hospital was our priority," Dana-Farber President and CEO Laurie Glimcher, MD, told the Boston Globe in a recent interview. "However, after many discussions over the course of many years, it became increasingly, increasingly clear that our visions for the future of cancer care did not align with the Brigham."

Mass General Brigham's $2 billion expansion plan is in progress, which includes renovations at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital and new towers for greater cancer and cardiology access at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

"The most important thing, honestly, is to move past the noise, and move past the politics and think about what is the best model of patient care for patients with cancer," Dr. Klibanski told the Boston Globe in an interview separate from her op-ed. "I'm not interested in the best model [for] 1990, but for the future."

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