The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center provides comprehensive care for Santa Barbara County patients
The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center has done a lot in its first five years.
For example, the center has expanded its breast cancer and prostate cancer programs, established a gastrointestinal surgical oncology program and launched Sansum Clinic’s Palliative Care and Advanced Care Planning.
That’s in addition to its support programs in areas such as music therapy, art, nutrition, and beauty and boutique, which are part of an approach that treats patients for cancer and lifts their spirits.
The center celebrated its fifth anniversary on Sept. 18 as Santa Barbara’s only comprehensive cancer center. The center is at 540 W. Pueblo St., just down the street from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and there’s an additional campus in Solvang.
The team of more than 200 physicians and staff has treated patients during 318,647 visits in the last five years.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer treated at the center at 24.8%, with leukemia or lymphoma at 18.7%, gastrointestinal cancer at 15.5% and prostate or other male cancers at 10%.
The primary funding arm of the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center is the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara.
“We primarily support programs and services in the building that are not covered by insurance,” Lori Willis, the foundation’s executive director of the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara, told the News-Press.
Since 2017, the foundation has donated $17, 292,787 to the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, which goes to support: community health, genetic counseling, oncology nutrition, patient navigation, clinical research, social services, staff education, wellness, acupuncture, scalp cooling, new technology, patient assistance and charity care, and the education and resource library.
Matt Bauman, Ridley-Tree Cancer Center’s vice president of oncology, noted the center is the only comprehensive cancer care center in Santa Barbara.
And the center’s programs have grown.
During the five years, the breast cancer program has been expanded by recruiting Dr. Katrina Mitchell, a fellowship-trained breast surgical oncologist, and Dr. Winnie Leung, Sansum Clinic’s first fellowship-trained diagnostic breast radiologist.
The prostate program was expanded by hiring Dr. Justin Voog, who has expertise in stereotactic body radiation therapy.
The gastrointestinal program was established with the recruitment of Dr. W. Charles Conway, Santa Barbara’s first fellowship-trained surgical oncologist, and Dr. Christina Harnsberger, a fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon.
Sansum Clinic’s Palliative and Advanced Care planning was launched with the recruitment of Dr. Deborah Meyers to lead the program.
During its first five years, the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center has shown its commitment to delivering what it calls the most advanced cancer treatment on the Central Coast. The staff noted patients benefit from the latest technology and treatments.
Providing care is a multidisciplinary team specializing in areas such as medical oncology, hematology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, clinical trials and research, genetic counseling, patient navigation, oncology nutrition, social work and wellness programs.
Named in honor of Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, a significant donor, the center combines all these programs under one roof.
“Cancer patients in Santa Barbara without the existence of Ridley-Tree Cancer Center and its predecessors would have to travel outside of this community to receive comprehensive cancer care. Because of the arrival and launch of the cancer center, everything is now here under one roof,” Mr. Bauman told the News-Press.
The center has stressed it is known for offering high quality care that’s on par with academic institutions.
The Clinical Research Department has enrolled 385 patients in 57 clinical trials, and the Radiation Oncology Department earned the prestigious ASTRO Accreditation Program for Excellence twice.
According to the cancer center, the added benefit for patients is care delivered with a compassionate, family-like feel, right here in Santa Barbara.
Mr. Bauman said the center’s legacy is “the ability to receive world class cancer care near your home for Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County residents.
He also noted construction of the center, a new structure, was financed by donors during a campaign that raised $48 million. “There is no debt owed on this building.”
“By the community, for the community, is the major differentiation,” said Mr. Bauman.
Ms. Willis said the foundation is grateful “for everyone that supported us and was able to help bring this project to light. It’s pretty amazing.”
She discussed what’s ahead for the cancer center.
“We have some plans and things in place. The nuclear medicine department is part of the center and (Santa Barbara) Cottage Hospital, and the foundation is bringing in two new digital machines totalling a little over $6 million,” Ms. Willis said. “A Spect-CT will come next year, and Pet-CT is coming this year. This will also mean the center will be transitioning from analog to digital. We are very excited to bring these to the community.
“Patients don’t need to leave their home to go anywhere else,” Ms. Willis said. “We will be the only cancer center of the Central Coast to have this technology. Most likely we’ll be figuring out what’s needed on the forefront of the latest technology, bringing another ball to the cancer center and some big technology projects in the works. So we’ve got some good things coming.”
Mr. Bauman said the machines are “instrumental to remaining in the top tier in terms of the medical technology that we’re using in cancer diagnostics and treatment or cancer diagnosis.”
The cancer center pointed out its accomplishments achieved over these past five years is remarkable, especially since so much of this work occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The center said it is a testament to the vision, persistence and strength of its team of physicians, staff, donors, patients and community partners.
“The message that we want people to walk away with is that we just want to make a growing impact, a positive impact on our community’s cancer care,” Mr. Bauman said. “You know one of our catchphrases in communicating that is ‘high tech, high touch.’ So Lori’s team is bringing the high tech component of that…and our team of providers, health care providers and staff are bringing in the ‘high touch’ component as members of this community treating the community.”
Added Ms. Willis, “We want to make sure that the community knows how grateful we are for their continued support, and we’re just so lucky to have this gem in Santa Barbara.”