Bigger may not always be better, but there can be strength in numbers.
That has been one of the axioms espoused by Western Connecticut Health Network and Health Quest when discussing the reasons for their merger, which was finalized in April. The resultant entity, Nuvance Health – a seven-hospital, $2.4 billion enterprise – will serve 1.5 million residents across Connecticut and New York, and be staffed by more than 12,000 employees.
One of those employees is Dr. Margo Shoup, formerly medical director of cancer services at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, who joined WCHN in late April as the new network chair of its cancer service line. In that role she will provide strategic and clinical leadership for all aspects of WCHN’s cancer services, including diagnostic imaging, genetic counseling, medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, research and clinical trials, and support services.
The merged system’s huge geographical footprint was one of the driving factors in Shoup’s decision to move east, she said.
“This is a very unique opportunity,” Shoup said. “We have the means to take programs that are already strong and make them even better, by expanding our reach and our resources, and to maintain a world-class cancer program right here in this region.”
From a patient’s point of view, Shoup said, “We will have more hospitals with a greater diversity of ideas, which will help us focus on best practices at each hospital,” which consists of Danbury, Norwalk, New Milford and Sharon hospitals in Connecticut and Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital Center and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York.
“Each hospital does certain things really well,” Shoup continued. “Now we’ll be able to take those things and implement them across the entire system. It’s very exciting.”
From a business standpoint, Shoup said the merger “allows us to access more resources to build those systems, as opposed to if each hospital was a standalone. Clinical trials, high-end technology – there’s always something coming along that hospitals, doctors and staff are interested in. We will now have the buying power to take advantage of those across the entire system.”
Shoup will also develop multidisciplinary disease management teams, consisting of specialists and services dedicated to specific types of cancer.
“Cancer and its treatment are so complicated that it’s becoming more and more important to have experts in the field,” she said. “By having, for example, a breast cancer surgeon working side by side with medical and radiation oncologists who focus on breast cancer, the patient will be receiving even better care and treatment than before. There are so many changes coming every month that it’s hard to keep up on them all, unless you’re completely focused on a particular area.”
Shoup will also manage the cancer care collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that launched at Norwalk Hospital in 2017.
Shoup said that at Northwestern she spent 10 years in the research, education and program development fields. She then transitioned to direct care for patients – something she reiterated was an important factor in accepting her new post.