The Connecticut Cancer Partnership is a coalition that supports the work of its members by providing a statewide context for cancer-related programming through its Cancer Plan. Members of the Partnership are drawn from the state’s diverse cancer community—academic and clinical institutions, state and local government, health care agencies, industry and insurers, advocacy and community groups. We currently comprise 150 organizations and 400 individual members from across the state. All members work to support the Partnership’s vision of reducing the burden of cancer for Connecticut residents, with a special focus on the elimination of cancer-related disparities.
The Partnership, through the volunteer efforts of its committees, the Connecticut Department of Public Health Comprehensive Control Program, staff and community partners work to:
- Convene cancer community partners
- Educate cancer control partners
- Mobilize advocates for cancer control including the area of policy, systems and environmental changes
- Monitor data trends related to the burden of cancer and
- Disseminate best practices to improve care across the continuum of cancer control
A 20-member Board of Directors and an Executive Committee (made up of one representative appointed by each of the Partnership’s five founding-member organizations and the officers) govern the Partnership. The Board leadership consists of a Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and immediate past Chair (see Connecticut Cancer Partnership Leadership). Board members who are not founding member representatives are elected by the Partnership members to serve two-year terms. Elections take place during a business meeting held every year during theAnnual Membership Meeting.
Members of the Partnership’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors provide guidance and oversight to two types of committees: committees representing the continuum of cancer control-Prevention, Early Detection, Treatment and Survivorship, Palliative and Hospice; and crosscutting committees-Advocacy, Communications, Data and Surveillance, Disparities, Education and Evaluation. Because committees are centered on a particular focus area, committee chairs (appointed by the Board Chair) are typically subject matter experts in that field. Most committees have co-chairs who guide the committee by holding regular meetings and staying in contact with committee members. One of the most important functions of these committees is to promote information exchange. Discussions of current and future projects during committee meetings inform decision-making in individual member organizations and help in reducing duplication of efforts. Meetings of committee chairs are held periodically, fostering cross-cutting integration of activities.
In addition to the voluntary leadership provided by the Board, Executive Committee and Committee chairs, the Partnership has regular staff members. The Director of the Partnership guides all the committees and the Board and works in concert with the Chair of the Board. The Director also works with the Department of Public Health Comprehensive Cancer Control Program to ensure timely reporting and accountability, especially when implementation projects are funded. Management of the Partnership staff, which includes a Project Coordinator, a Disparities Project Coordinator and evaluation sub-contractors, where appropriate, is also the responsibility of the Director. Staff members run the day-to-day business of the Partnership.
PROCESS OF PLAN DEVELOPMENT
The Connecticut Cancer Plan, 2014–2017 represents the coordinated efforts of Partnership members from across the state who came together through its ten committees to develop a blueprint that represents the needs of the people of Connecticut. It reflects the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NCCCP) which recommends that state cancer plans:
- Emphasize primary prevention
- Support early detection and treatment activities
- Address public health needs of survivors
- Implement policy, systems and environmental (PSE) changes to guide sustainable cancer control
- Promote health equity as it relates to cancer control
- Demonstrate outcomes through evaluation
The Partnership adhered to these recommendations throughout the process of plan development. In addition, staff surveyed Partnership members for their suggestions. Committee meetings were held to develop content to address the continuum of cancer control in Connecticut.
In the spring of 2013, additional feedback was obtained at six regional meetings across the state. Meetings were held in each geographic region of the state – Central (Hartford and Middletown), Northwest (Torrington), Northeast (Tolland), Southwest (Ridgefield) and Southeast (Norwich).
Attendees included local public health officials, physicians, nurses, community advocates, patient navigators, hospice workers and survivors. The following themes emerged from the meetings:
- Barriers to care include lack of, or limited transportation options in both rural and urban areas and lack of culturally- and linguistically- appropriate patient education about screening guidelines and early detection services. There is also a need for better access to primary care and for increased coordination between primary care and specialty care.
- Shortages in the primary care workforce pose problems for cancer screening and diagnosis in parts of the state. This may worsen over the next four years with an increase in the insured populations due to implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
- Participants noted the importance of patient navigators or community health workers (CHWs) to improve access to care and the need for trained and funded CHWs to work in this rapidly changing health care landscape.
- Palliative care and end-of-life/hospice care should be considered as separate patient needs, since palliative care should be available throughout the course of illness.
- The Partnership should consider increased use of regional-level coalitions to implement more locally targeted strategies. (The Hartford Cancer Task Force was cited as a model.)
The Partnership’s five founding members:
American Cancer Society
Connecticut Departmentof Public Health
Connecticut State Medical Society
University of Connecticut Health Center
Yale Cancer Center