Local News

Cape Fear Valley cancer treatment program earns national accreditation

13 patient consultThe Commission on Cancer, a quality program of the American College of Surgeons has granted three-year accreditation to the cancer program at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center as an Academic Comprehensive Cancer Program.

To earn voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet 34 CoC quality care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process, and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care. Only 13% of cancer treatment programs hold the Academic Comprehensive Cancer Program designation.

“This accreditation is considered the gold standard in cancer care,” said Cape Fear Valley’s Executive Corporate Director of Oncology Services Kanwar Singh. “It’s a voluntary accreditation with prescriptive standards, and we challenge ourselves to meet these rigorous quality care standards. Because the accreditation is multi-disciplinary in nature, it also acknowledges the teamwork from areas of Cape Fear Valley beyond the Cancer Center.”

The Academic Comprehensive Cancer Program designation is an advancement from the program’s previous designation as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, and further means that the program participates in postgraduate medical education in at least four program areas, and that it participates in cancer-related clinical research as well as offering the full range of diagnostic and treatment either on-site or by referral. Cape Fear Valley Health has residency programs in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, General Surgery and Emergency Medicine.

Because it is a CoC-accredited cancer program, Cape Fear Valley Cancer Treatment and Cyberknife Center takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary partnership results in improved patient care.

The CoC Accreditation Program provides the framework for Cape Fear Valley Cancer Treatment and Cyberknife Center to improve its quality of patient care through various cancer-related programs that focus on the full spectrum of cancer care including prevention, early diagnosis, cancer staging, optimal treatment, rehabilitation, life-long follow-up for recurrent disease, and end-of-life care. When patients receive care at a CoC facility, they also have access to information on clinical trials and new treatments, genetic counseling and patient centered services including psycho-social support, a patient navigation process, and a survivorship care plan that documents the care each patient receives and seeks to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

Like all CoC-accredited facilities, Cape Fear Valley Cancer Treatment and Cyberknife Center maintains a cancer registry and contributes data to the National Cancer Data Base, a joint program of the CoC and American Cancer Society.

This nationwide oncology outcomes database is the largest clinical disease registry in the world. Data on all types of cancer are tracked and analyzed through the NCDB and used to explore trends in cancer care. CoC-accredited cancer centers, in turn, have access to information derived from this type of data analysis, which is used to create national, regional and state benchmark reports. These reports help CoC facilities with their quality improvement efforts.

There are currently more than 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. CoC-accredited facilities diagnose and/or treat more than 70% of all newly diagnosed patients with cancer. When cancer patients choose to seek care locally at a CoC-accredited cancer center, they are gaining access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art cancer care close to home. The CoC provides the public with information on the resources, services, and cancer treatment experience for each CoC-accredited cancer program through the CoC Hospital Locator at https://www.facs.org/search/cancer-programs.

Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the CoC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving patient outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education, and the monitoring of comprehensive, quality care. Its membership includes Fellows of the American College of Surgeons. For more information, visit: www.facs.org/cancer.

For more information about the Cape Fear Valley Health System and its services visit www.CapeFearValley.com.

Local advocates, volunteers raise awareness of sexual assault prevention efforts

11 Resized 20210327 1558431Every 73 seconds an American becomes a victim of sexual assault, according to RAINN, the Rape Assault Incest National Network.

The month of April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or SAAM, and many groups continue to raise awareness of these crimes and prevention efforts. Many organizations offer resources locally for victims and their families

One local organization has been working since 1976 to achieve zero tolerance for crimes of sexual violence and to reduce its trauma. Rape Crisis of Cumberland County was established to provide services to victims of sexual assault, and they now also assist those affected by domestic violence and human trafficking.

The agency’s team consists of several victim advocates including cold case, sexual assault and domestic violence advocates and the directors and volunteers to provide direct victim services, and a contracted counselor. They offer free services to those in need, and assistance is not contingent upon a police report.

“We have a 24-hour crisis line that is staffed either with staff members or volunteer advocates, holidays, weekends, 2 o’clock in the morning — whenever someone might need to reach out and talk to us,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director Rape Crisis of Cumberland County.

Some of the services offered include hospital calls where advocates respond to victims in the hospital and walk them through the steps of the rape kit, their rights, address what happened, help identify medical needs and more.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of cases [reported] has been very low,” said Gerdes. “I don’t think the crime has dropped, but because people in the beginning of the pandemic were unsure who was open, or how to safely make contact and they were stuck at home, there’s been a dip in reporting. But in the years to come we will have those numbers figured out.”

The organization receives its funds from the Governor's Crime Commission, North Carolina Council for Women, the Department of Justice and donors.
Board member and volunteer Juaneza Vivian raises money by selling arts and crafts from her business “Cookie’s Crafts 4 Crisis.”

“When I started the funding was low, and all my proceeds go to RCC,” Vivian said. “My mission is to help eradicate sexual assault the best I know how, selling my crafts to give into RCC is my way of helping.”

Matthew Kelley, a victim advocate of four years said he responds to emergency room calls and provides support to victims.

Advocates ask if they have a ride home, if they’re going home to a safe environment, or if they have clothes to leave the hospital with, Gerdes mentioned.

“Advocacy is really what we do, and it looks completely different for everyone,” Gerdes said. “We explain resources, their rights, what options they have as far as law enforcement or military or job related issues. We do leave it up to individuals to determine their path, we don't create their path for them.”

The victim advocates also attend court appearances with victims if needed, walking them through the courthouse

“It’s scary to even figure out where parking is at the courthouse, it’s scary to walk in and we know that. We actually walk them through, so we’ll meet them in the parking lot or at the agency,” Gerdes said. “We understand the courthouse website and where to be.”

Rape Crisis currently offers virtual support groups for victims during the pandemic, along with in-person counselling. In situations where the victim doesn’t have a safe place to go to, they offer funds for travel and a short-term hotel stay.

The organization takes on cold cases as well, where someone doesn’t immediately come forward following an assault. The state of North Carolina has no statute of limitations for rape.

Gerdes said they helped 560 individuals in the year before the pandemic. While the ratio of men to women survivors differs by location and there are lower reports in men possibly due to stigma, the crisis center sees more male victims from
Fort Bragg.

U.S. Air Force units located at Pope Army Airfield on Fort Bragg offer various services and help victims of sexual assault through their Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, or SAPR, program for active-duty members and their family members. These services include restricted reports, medical, mental and behavioral health services, and legal aid.

The SAPR office does not provide mental health services in-house, but connects victims with those services located at Womack Medical Center and mental health services available outside post, said SAPR Victim Advocate Elenah Kelly.

“Sometimes victims feel uncomfortable seeking mental health services on post in concerns with their records or further employment,” she said. “So as a victim advocate it is my responsibility to give them options like the Vet Center, and Steven Cohen Military Family Clinic at Cape Fear Valley where there are no records kept and doesn’t require any payment for veterans.”

Another service they offer is the Special Victims Council, which connects the victim with a legal representative to understand their rights, options if and when they want to report the assault, and launch an investigation.

“We have two reporting options, restricted and unrestricted,” SAPR Coordinator Karen Smith said. “When we have a restricted reporting option that means a person can make a confidential report, we are not mandated to report to law enforcement or command. Unrestricted type is where the victims choose to report it, they want it investigated, and want to hold the subject accountable.”

The SAPR program offers an expedited transfer for victims that make a report to relocate them if needed.

“We also offer protective orders,” Kelly said. “There's the military protective order which covers the military post, mandated by the commander, giving the victim a protective order from their perpetrator.”

Smith said that a resource offered to all branches of the military is the DoD Safe Helpline, and the app can be found on the app store for military members and

“It is 100 percent confidential and anonymous, available 24-7, you can call, text,” Smith said. “Sometimes it may be 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and you can’t sleep and you’re having triggers, that DoD Safe Helpline is a great resource, and that number is 877-995-5247.”

The SAPR team has been hosting many events as part of sexual assault awareness month. Some of the events include a virtual 5k, promoting wearing teal, the color for SAAM. The Respect the Rock event found members painting rocks teal with messages on them spread throughout the base. They also hosted a door decorating contest, where participants decorated doors to spread the message of sexual assault awareness.

There was also a kickoff video where several unit commanders joined the SAPR team for a message about being the one, protecting our people and protecting our mission. The video encourages everyone to be the one to step in, to be the one to see something, say something, be the one to help someone in need. On April 28, they are celebrating International Denim Day and encouraging folks to wear denim.

Smith echoed the message from the video that we all have a responsibility to be the one to help others in the community when possible.

Gerdes from Rape Crisis Center said often the best thing the community can do in terms of support for the victims is understand them and believe them.
Victim advocate Matthew Kelley said prevention remains a key when addressing sexual assault.

“Instead of teaching people when to go out, what to wear, we should be teaching people about what consensual sex actually is and raise and educate people to not commit these crimes,” Kelley said.

Some of the other organizations that survivors can seek help in Cumberland County are the Care Center, Fayetteville Police Department and the Child Advocacy Center.

“We have a great sexual assault advocacy team in Cumberland County, and I am really, really proud of it,” Gerdes said. “Law enforcement, prosecutors, district attorneys, legal aid and when I say we are a team, we are absolutely a team — we hold each other accountable. And we are all very victim-centered and that’s wonderful.”


Local Area Resources

Rape Crisis of Cumberland County
519 Ramsey St., Fayetteville
24-Hour Local Hotline: 910-485-7273
National Sexual Assault Hotline:

Pope Army Airfield SAPR 24/7
Hotline: 910-394-7272

Fort Bragg Army SHARP Hotline: 910-

Fayetteville Vet Center, 2301 Robeson
St. #103, Fayetteville, 910-488-6252

Cohen Clinic: 910-615-3737

SAFE of Harnett County
Crisis Line: 910-893-7233

Hoke County Domestic Violence and
Sexual Assault Center, 225 S. Main St.
Raeford Crisis Line: 910-878-0118

Friend to Friend: Carthage
Crisis Line: 910-947-3333

12 170405 F CD624 0005

Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center faces critical shortage

09 N1309P17004HThe Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center is holding multiple blood drives this month to combat the continuing critical shortage of donated blood. Officials warn that Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center has reached the lowest level of supply for crucial Type O- and Type O+ blood the health system has seen since the pandemic started. The health system is urging residents in Cumberland, Bladen, Harnett and Hoke Counties to donate blood at one of several local blood drives.

The health system considers a “critical” level of blood supply to be less than three days, but the center currently has less than a one-day supply of Type O+ and Type O- blood. While all blood types are accepted for donation, these blood types are particularly useful because they can be used in emergency situations and for all trauma patients as well as neonatal babies. Type O- is the universal blood type, which can be transfused to all blood types, regardless of the recipient’s blood type. Type O+ is the most common blood type people have in the United States.

“Because of COVID, we’ve been battling urgent shortages on and off since last year,” said Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center Manager Amy Fisher. “But in the last couple of months our urgent shortage has become even more critical. We are the sole providers who supply all the hospitals in the Cape Fear Valley Health system and our blood donors save lives across the region.”

Cape Fear Valley Health System is the 8th largest regional health system in North Carolina with more than 1 million inpatient and outpatients annually. A private not-for-profit organization, it includes Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital, Cape Fear Valley Rehabilitation Center, Behavioral Health Care, Bladen County Hospital, Hoke Hospital, Health Pavilion North, Health Pavilion Hoke and Harnett Health. For more information, visit www.CapeFearValley.com.

“At last count, there are only nine units of O positive blood left for patients at Cape Fear Valley Health,” Fisher said last week. “That’s nine units of O positive for the entire health system, which uses the blood in Cumberland, Bladen, Hoke and Harnett counties.”

Fisher said the Blood Donor Center has 35 units of O-, which is still considered a shortage. One patient could deplete that supply.

“One person has about 12 units of blood in their body. If only one person needed a total blood transfusion, we would run out of O+ blood to transfuse,” Fisher said.

Donating blood is a selfless act that saves lives. Blood donors recognize the vital role they play in patient care, but some may wonder if it's safe to donate blood during the pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is safe for anyone who is well to donate blood. That even goes for people who are social distancing due to COVID-19.

Blood donors can find a blood drive near them by checking www.savingliveslocally.org/blood_drives.aspx. No appointment is needed. Donors can also visit the Blood Donor Center at 3357 Village Drive, Fayetteville, in the Bordeaux Shopping Center. It is open for donations Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the third Saturday of each month, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please call 910-615-LIFE (615-5433).

The Blood Donor Center offers enticements to encourage donors to lend a vein, such as a COVID-19 antibody screening. Swag varies by location and event, but donors have recently received a free T-shirt and coupons for a free pizza from Papa Murphy’s in Fayetteville. Local high school students who donate can enter to win a car from Powers Swain Chevrolet. Friends and family members of high school students can also donate on their high school student’s behalf to earn additional entries for their student in the drawing. A winner in the car drawing will be chosen July 26 at Powers Swain Chevrolet.

Below is a listing of scheduled mobile blood drive locations. Updates are posted on the website.

April 28: Tony Rand Student Center/FTCC,
9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2201 Hull Road, Fayetteville

April 29: Stoney Point Fire Department, 5-9 p.m., 7221 Stoney Point Road, Fayetteville,910-424-0694

April 30: American Freight, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1240 Ireland Drive, Fayetteville

April 30: West Park Apartments, 4-6:30 p.m., 5600 Fountain Grove Circle, Fayetteville, 910-779-0580

May 1: Highland Centre, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2550 Ravenhill Drive, Fayetteville, 910-223-0765

May 4: Anderson Creek Fire Department, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., 6200 Overhills Road, Spring Lake, 910-497-1157

May 5: South Main Apartments, 1-4 p.m., 4003 William Bill Luther Drive, Hope Mills

May 7: Chick-Fil-A Ramsey, 1-3 p.m., 4611 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, 910-488-1907

City to replace recycling carts, adjust pick-up schedule beginning May 1

06 recycling cart 2On May 1, curbside recycling in the city of Fayetteville will occur every other week. The city will replace standard 35-gallon roll out carts with larger 96-gallon carts. Residents are asked to place their carts at the curb on their regularly scheduled recycling days for replacement. There will be no cost to Fayetteville residents for the newer 96-gallon carts. Eighty percent of customers currently use the small trash bins. They have to be turned in to receive the bigger ones. Customers who already have 96-gallon carts will also receive the newer carts if they like. City Council approved the purchase of 64,000 96-gallon carts at a cost of $3.3 million. The city expects to realize significant cost savings over time. In just five years following the transition, estimated savings are projected to be $775,000.

House Bill 82 passes, offers summer program for at risk students

05 summer schoolMany North Carolina children are suffering setbacks in their education because of the ongoing pandemic. “The quality of education in North Carolina has been affected,” says State Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland). He said students across the state may be unable to advance to the next grade level. “Because of this, my colleagues and I chose to sponsor the Summer Learning Choice Bill.” House Bill 82 was signed into law by Gov. Cooper on April 16. The bill, known as the Summer Learning Choice Bill for NC Families, creates a fully funded, six-weeks, in-person summer program with the goal of addressing learning loss during the pandemic.

School districts will identify students who are at risk and offer their parents the option to enroll them in the summer program. If space allows, students not considered at risk for failing could enroll in the program. According to the bill, the summer program will not meet for instruction on Saturdays, and meals will be provided to students. For more information on House Bill 82 visit www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2021/H82


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