McLeod Fellows Visit the McLeod Cancer Center


McLeod Radiation Oncologist Dr. Virginia Clyburn-Ipock discusses the delivery of Stereotactic Radiosurgery to the McLeod Fellows Class. 

The McLeod Fellows gained insight into the medical and technological advancements within the McLeod Center for Cancer Treatment and Research on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. Speakers included McLeod Pulmonologist Dr. Vinod Jona and McLeod Radiation Oncologist Dr. Virginia Clyburn-Ipock.

The McLeod Foundation annually offers the McLeod Fellows program in an effort to engage and recruit community leaders to become advocates for McLeod Health. During eight monthly sessions, the Fellows receive a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes look at medicine and the complex issues driving healthcare today.

The 14th McLeod Fellows Class is currently participating in the program. This innovative program was introduced to the region in 2006, and is composed of 17 professionals who have actively demonstrated leadership abilities in the community.

During their visit to the McLeod Cancer Center, the Fellows received information and presentations from Judy Bibbo, Vice President of Cancer Services; Robin Aiken, Chair of the HOPE Fund Advisory Committee; Lisa McDonald, Director of Cancer Coordination and Pam Worthy, Assistant Director of Nursing for Infusion Services.

Dr. Jona spoke to the group about the McLeod Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program. He addressed the need for individuals who meet the criteria to undergo low-dose CT screening for lung cancer to improve early detection. Dr. Jona also explained the technology and procedures he utilizes at McLeod to perform lung biopsies to confirm a cancer diagnosis.

The team leading the McLeod Lung Cancer Program includes pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. These physicians treat lung cancer using immunotherapy, robotic surgery, stereotactic body radiotherapy and traditional chemotherapy and radiation.

Dr. Jona added that McLeod now has the ability to track every patient who is found to have a lung nodule with LungGPS. This technology utilizes artificial intelligence to search through all radiology reports in real-time. It also generates follow-up letters to physicians and patients, tracking of patient appointments and orders, and issues “red flags” to ensure patients who have not returned to the Nodule Clinic or for a follow-up scan are contacted.

Aiken followed Dr. Jona and shared the background on how the HOPE (Helping Oncology Patients Everyday) Fund was established shortly after the new Cancer Center opened in 2014. She offered examples of how the fund helps patients with immediate needs, medication and transportation assistance as well as educational materials. Aiken added that the HOPE Fund has now been endowed for a $1 million thanks to the generosity of donors to the McLeod Foundation and the McLeod Volunteers.

Prior to a tour of the Cancer Center led by McDonald and Worthy, the closing speaker was Dr. Clyburn-Ipock. She talked with the class from the treatment room that houses the TrueBeam unit that delivers Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) to treat cancer in the brain and spine. Dr. Clyburn-Ipock explained that McLeod has three TrueBeam linear accelerators capable of offering Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) as well as traditional radiation. She also described how the delivery of SRS and SBRT allow the team to target tumors in the brain, lung and spine with pinpoint accuracy in a fewer number of treatments.