New Collaboration Between OU Health, Hillcrest Brings Highest Level of Cancer Care to Region

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New Collaboration Between OU Health, Hillcrest Brings Highest Level of Cancer Care to Region

OU Health is collaborating with Hillcrest HealthCare System to bring the highest level of research-driven cancer care to Tulsa and the surrounding region. The collaboration combines the expertise of the state’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center (NCI) with the strength of the Hillcrest HealthCare System to deliver advanced cancer therapies and clinical trials to the residents of northeast Oklahoma.

The Hillcrest Medical Center medical oncology clinic and infusion center will become OU Health’s newest location, OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center at Hillcrest, bringing vital services such as clinical trials, precision-guided treatments and the resources of an NCI-Designated Cancer Center. The collaboration will also enhance support services at Hillcrest, including nurse navigation, tribal health navigation, nutrition, pharmacy, psycho-oncology, case management and genetics services and provide a clinical home for both community medical oncologists and academic physician scientists.

“Combining the strengths of Hillcrest as a trusted health system in Tulsa with the resources of the NCI-Designated OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center will significantly impact the lives of countless Oklahomans and accelerate our efforts to reach more of our community with life-saving, advanced therapies,” said OU Health President and CEO Dr. Richard Lofgren, M.D., MPH, FACP. “As the flagship academic health system for Oklahoma, we have a responsibility to provide destination healthcare services to every Oklahoman, no matter where they live. No one should have to leave the state to get the care they need, and this collaboration brings that care to Tulsa where it can really make a difference.”

Although the state’s cancer incidence overall is below the national average, Oklahoma ranks fourth in the nation for cancer-related deaths with nearly 23,000 new cases diagnosed annually. The cancer mortality rates in northeast and eastern Oklahoma are some of the highest in the state, and over the next 10 years, the forecasted need for outpatient cancer care is expected to increase by 13% in northeast Oklahoma.

Despite these statistics, people living in northeast Oklahoma have the lowest participation rates in clinical trials at Stephenson Cancer Center, underscoring the need for expanded access to research-driven cancer care. Stephenson Cancer Center offers about 300 active trials, more than the rest of the state combined, and provides the state’s only Phase I Clinical Trials Program.

Hillcrest medical oncologist Kyle Brett, M.D., will assume a leadership role in accelerating clinical trial development and access in this region. As a Tulsa native, Dr. Brett is passionate about ensuring the community she serves has access to the latest and most advanced cancer care.

“Having the resources of an NCI-Designated Cancer Center is a major step forward in fighting cancer in our region and is a huge win for our patients at Hillcrest,” she said. “Patients in rural areas often face challenges accessing research-driven cancer care. Through this collaboration, we're bringing state-of-the-art treatments, clinical trials and multidisciplinary care into our health system and reducing the burden of travel and ensuring timely interventions.”

The collaboration enhances access for residents in Tulsa who are seen at Hillcrest and further develops the Stephenson Cancer Center as the statewide network aimed at serving all Oklahomans with the highest level of research-driven cancer care. It allows for seamless integration of outpatient and inpatient oncology care with access to advanced therapies and complex subspecialty services that must be delivered in an inpatient setting at Hillcrest.

“This collaboration with OU Health isn't just about medical services—it's about empowering the communities we serve at Hillcrest by offering our patients access to research-driven therapies that only an academic health system partner can provide,” said Kevin Gross, president and CEO of Hillcrest. “Our joint efforts will drive forward-thinking initiatives, exploring novel therapies, care delivery models, and community outreach and screening strategies tailored to the unique needs of our patients in Tulsa and surrounding regions.”

In April, OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center announced its expansion to the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, with plans underway to build a state-of-the-art facility at OU-Tulsa to create a flagship outpatient site for cancer services in Tulsa. Stephenson Cancer Center also has plans to expand cancer services in McAlester and in Norman, a new facility is under construction as part of a collaboration with Norman Regional Health System.