St. Peter's, Huntsman Cancer Institute consider partnership

Helena, Mont.-based St. Peter's Health and the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City are considering an affiliation that would expand access to advanced cancer care in the Helena region, the Independent Record reported March 21. 

"St. Peter's is excited to be in conversations with the Huntsman Cancer Institute to bring world-class cancer care to Helena," Wade Johnson, CEO of St. Peter's Health, said in an email  to the Independent Record. "This is an incredible opportunity to connect our patients with some of the nation's top oncology specialists and available cancer treatment, without having to travel to a major city." 

An official from Huntsman confirmed the cancer center was in talks with St. Peter's.

"One important way we extend our reach is through affiliate hospitals," Don Milligan, cancer hospital executive director at Huntsman, told the Independent Record. 

News of the potential affiliation comes amid a legal battle between St. Peter's Health and Tom Weiner, MD, a former oncologist at the health system.

St. Peter's announced Dr. Weiner's removal in December 2020, saying he had been harming patients for years via clinically unnecessary treatments, among other claims. Dr. Weiner then filed suit against St. Peter's, alleging he was a dedicated and respected physician for nearly 25 years, and that the hospital never hired another oncologist to help him. His lawsuit claims hospital officials knew if they terminated him without labeling him as incompentent, Dr. Weiner could "gut SPH's Cancer Treatment Center" by taking his practice elsewhere, according to the Independent Record. 

St. Peter's had not responded to the Independent Record's request for comment regarding whether its potential affiliation with Huntsman was related to Dr. Weiner's termination. An attorney for Dr. Weiner also had not responded to an inquiry from the news outlet at the time of publication. 

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