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Community Oncology Practice Meets Unexpected Challenges - and Helps Their Community

By Featured article

Dr. Nashat Gabrail understands the importance of meeting the greater needs of his community, all while operating a thriving community oncology practice.  Gabrail founded the Gabrail Cancer and Research Center near Canton, Ohio in 1990 with that mission in mind – improving the health and quality of life for their patients. Canton is primarily an industrial and agricultural area, located between Cleveland and Columbus. 

To meet the needs of patients throughout the county and consider another revenue stream for his practice, Gabrail worked with a few of the local businesses to establish onsite clinics, helping the businesses address the health needs of their employees. The practice has maintained some of the clinics for as long as nine years, providing a place for the businesses’ employees for both preventive and acute care, and to easily get their medications through Gabrail’s pharmacy, which is open to the larger community.

Over the years, the clinics helped to “establish a bond and trust” between the providers like Gabrail and his administrator, Shelly Rentsch and the business owners. The businesses looked to Gabrail and his team for guidance during this time of the pandemic, and as word gets out, other manufacturers across the state look to their team for help.

As the COVID-19 pandemic moved across the country, the practice began working with the manufacturers to screen employees to try to thwart the spread of the virus within their essential businesses, many of which  are in the food supply chain.

Currently, Gabrail and his expanded staff are performing health assessments for over 2,200 employees in the area – some assessments being done as often as three times per employee per shift expanding over three shifts per day.  As Rentsch explained, “We are checking the temperatures and using pulse oximeters on each employee before they enter the building, at their lunchtime, and again when they leave work.” The providers are following CDC guidelines for assessments when an employee shows any possible symptoms of illness, and they are sent to an offsite outdoor clinic setting to be tested for flu or coronavirus, depending on the established protocols. 

Gabrail has also created a hotline for employees where they can call in to be assessed before reporting to work. The nurses do an online assessment to determine if the employees are sick or even feeling anxiety over the current pandemic. This helps both the employees and the business owners to continue to provide services, especially as some of the clinic’s clients are food processors trying to keep the supply chain from interruption.
While these onsite clinic services have grown dramatically, Gabrail and his providers continue to provide oncology services to their patients.

“We continually remind community providers that they need to consider other revenue streams for their practice. This pandemic represented an unexpected challenge for us, and we are providing a service to our community and the businesses, helping to keep our own community healthier,” noted Gabrail. 

Because of the increased demand for services, Gabrail was able to employ highly-qualified providers who were furloughed from local hospitals, making another positive impact on their community.

Gabrail also emphasized anticipating equipment needs, and worked schedules around having the necessary equipment available between the practice and clinics. With a slight interruption in some newly purchased equipment, he noted that purchasing from reputable vendors with a focus on quality control was important in order to meet the challenges successfully. He plans to work on advocating for those quality issues with the state.
“We were prepared for the unexpected challenges, and as a practice, we will continue to meet those needs,” said Gabrail.