Advancing Cancer and Urology Care in the Greater Antelope Valley Region

July 11, 2024

Man and woman shaking hands from across a tableSouthwest Healthcare Palmdale Regional Medical Center is collaborating with City of Hope® to give the community better access to quality cancer and urology care. The affiliation combines City of Hope’s world-class cancer care and research expertise and Palmdale Regional Medical Center’s high-quality patient care to improve access for patients to the latest in cancer diagnosis and treatment services, close to home.

“Palmdale Regional certainly has the resources that allow us to create a path of care for cancer patients that treats the disease,” says Benjamin Gocke, Director of Business Development at Palmdale Regional. “What we really look for with the partnership with City of Hope, and what they do so well, is collaborating on their mission of treating not only the disease that the patient has but the whole patient.”

City of Hope is one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the U.S. and is one of the leading research centers, enrolling more than 7,000 patients annually in clinical trials. It has over 35 clinical care locations across Southern California.

City of Hope physicians provide clinical leadership and serve as medical directors for the surgical oncology and urology programs at Palmdale Regional. “The partnership brings various programs like the urology program, breast program and surgical residency program, which in turn will facilitate better healthcare,” says Amartej Merla, MD, oncologist-hematologist at City of Hope. “One of the aims with this collaboration is also to expand our reach into the community and make clinical trials, which we have at City of Hope, available to our vulnerable population in Antelope Valley region.”

Getting started

Last year, City of Hope opened a clinical network site on the Palmdale Regional campus where patients can receive comprehensive urology services, medical oncology consultations and surgical consultations.

Many people in the U.S. put off routine healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic. To start with, Palmdale Regional and City of Hope aim to increase the region’s rate of preventive screenings for cancer.

“We have seen lot of cancers in the community and more people are now presenting with advanced cancers after missing routine screening,” Dr. Merla explains. “Eligible populations should get screening, as well as know that prevention and early detection is the key for success.”

For Gocke and Dr. Merla, these are exciting times. “When I was able to tour the offices that City of Hope has built on the campus of Palmdale Regional, I kind of got goosebumps as I walked through,” says Gocke. “First of all, it’s a beautiful, fantastic facility, with advanced equipment. It’s the space that they really need to be able to treat the residents in the community here. That was a really special feeling.”

“One of the happiest moments is when I did my first clinic in the new location,” Dr. Merla recalls. “It was absolutely fantastic and a very nice office. Seeing the first patient on the very first day was a great, exciting moment for me.”

Podcast: Palmdale Regional and City of Hope Partnership

Listen to Benjamin Gocke and Dr. Merla discuss the collaboration with City of Hope.