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  • Drs. Andres Alvarez and Alejandra Ergle with patient

    New Hope for Solid Tumor Cancer Patients

    Cancer patients whose disease has been resistant to traditional chemotherapy drugs and/or metastasized within their body may be eligible for an immunotherapy that has been successful in the treatment of blood cancers.

    Memorial Cancer Institute, one of only seven designated Cancer Centers of Excellence in Florida, is hosting a research study that will utilize CAR-T cell therapy against solid tumors in the head and neck, lungs, and skin.

    The T-cell immunotherapy has demonstrated success in specific blood cancers, like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and select non-Hodgkin lymphomas, boasting response rates of 50% to exceeding 70% in clinical trials. Notably, CAR-T therapy represents a dynamic frontier in cancer treatment, with ongoing research and evolving clinical outcomes shaping its trajectory.

    “In our Cancer Center of Excellence, we offer diverse opportunities for patient participation in cutting-edge clinical trials, contingent on research protocols and medical evaluation,” said Dr. Andres Alvarez, MD, PhD, Director, Oncology Research at Memorial Healthcare System. "Our clinical research focus includes the search for specific HLA-typed cells in solid tumor CAR-T clinical studies, as well as numerous other novel research opportunities. Our commitment to state-of-the-art oncology research is driven by cell therapies, pioneering developments in new treatment options for solid tumors, personalized medicine, genetics, biobanking, and treating patients with precision medicine. Novel types of immunotherapy, like reengineered T cells (CAR-T and TIL therapies) and other medical research advances, are part of this approach.”

    T cells are a type of white blood cell that help the body’s immune system fight disease. In CAR-T cell therapy they are harvested from blood and genetically altered to produce synthetic molecules called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). In the current study, the modified cells will be used for patients with solid tumors, with the hope that the CARs enable the T cells to recognize and attach to a certain protein in cancer cells and kill them.

    The approach has had success in the lab and the research is now being extended to select cancer centers for use on patients that qualify. “Ours is a multi-disciplinary approach that includes physicians, scientists, research specialists, regulatory experts, Memorial’s Office of Human Research, its cancer institute, and the Moffitt Malignant Hematology and Cell Therapy program,” said Alvarez. “It’s a unique collaboration made even more effective by the enhanced technology and research capabilities of the new 122,000 square foot, $125 million dedicated cancer facility we’re opening that will provide additional space for studies and increased access to clinical trials for patients.”

    Patients that qualify to participate in the CAR-T study can expect a minimum of six months of research visits, monthly oncology visits, and target treatments. Study qualification, participation, and results will be determined through medical oncologist evaluation.

    To learn more about CAR-T cell therapy for solid tumors or any of the more than 75 clinical trials offered at Memorial, request information online or call 954-265-1847.

  • Memorial Healthcare System logo

    South Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners Again Adopts Lowest Millage Rate for the 13th Consecutive Years

    Memorial Healthcare System has broken a district record once again with the South Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners voting to reduce its millage rate to 0.0937. Even amid market challenges and an evolving dynamic in the workforce, this is a notable reduction of 7.23 percent from last year. Because of Memorial’s solid fiscal standing, commissioners backed the position which will benefit Broward County residents.

    What Does a Lower Millage Rate Mean?

    The 0.0937 millage rate represents a 7.23 percent decrease from last year’s rate of 0.1010. The resulting gross tax revenues are estimated to reach $7.83 million. After accounting for early payment discounts and a certain percentage of uncollectible taxes, the anticipated tax payments this year of $7.61 million will provide Memorial enough revenue to cover its governmental obligations, which include paying Broward County’s Medicaid Match program and community redevelopment agencies in several municipalities in south Broward County, as well as tax collector commissions and property appraiser fees.

    With no net tax revenue to fund uncompensated care, the district will tap operating income to account for all uncompensated care costs across the entire Memorial Healthcare System, including its six hospitals and 11 Memorial Primary Care clinics. In fiscal year 2024 uncompensated care is expected to exceed $1.13 billion.

    As a proven industry leader, Memorial’s portfolio includes comprehensive services related to cardiac and stroke care, Level 1 trauma center, maternity-fetal medicine, and heart, kidney and pancreas transplants to name a few. Memorial is more focused than ever on increased access across South Florida communities. Initiatives such as new Memorial Primary Care center in Northwest Miami-Dade County, Weston, and Plantation; a comprehensive cancer center in Pembroke Pines; and expanded mobile primary care services in various underserved communities, are just a few hallmarks of improved consumer experience and focus.

    Memorial also continues to be laser-focused on workforce, safety and quality. Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization that collects and transparently reports on hospital performance, recognized Memorial’s level of quality and safety. The healthcare system also received Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare, the coveted Great Place to Work certification, recognizing employers who create an outstanding employee experience. The growing list of consistent accomplishments keeps Memorial among a handful of public hospitals in the nation earning coveted AA, Aa3 financial ratings from Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s.

  • Dr. Phil Wright

    Phil A. Wright, II to Lead Memorial Regional Hospital South

    Memorial Healthcare System has named Phil A. Wright, FACHE, chief executive officer at Memorial Regional Hospital South. He joins a facility that was named one of the best rehabilitation hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

    Wright brings more than 25 years healthcare experience to his new position, including most recent roles as chief business development officer and chief operating officer at AdventHealth Ocala (formerly Munroe Regional Medical Center). Additionally, he was CEO at Southampton Memorial Hospital in Franklin, Virginia. Wright is a graduate of both Florida A&M University and the Medical University of South Carolina, where he earned a master’s degree in health administration.

    “Phil joins us with strategic, financial, and operational management expertise in both for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare settings and balances his business acumen and clinical expertise with staff engagement, creating a healthy organizational culture and ensuring safe, high-quality care,” said Leah A. Carpenter, FACHE, chief operating officer at Memorial Healthcare System. “He has an impressive track record of hands-on leadership, collaborating directly with leaders, physicians, and staff to meet the needs of patients, families, and communities in an ever-changing healthcare environment.”

    A native of Gainesville, Florida, Wright takes over for the recently-retired Douglas Zaren. At Memorial Regional Hospital South, he will oversee a 280-bed facility that offers a wide range of healthcare services in a compassionate, collaborative setting. It is home to the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute, South Florida’s largest provider of physical rehabilitation services, and includes a rehab unit specifically tailored to the needs of medically-complex patients. The hospital also offers emergency care, women’s services, a sports medicine center, and adaptive sports program.