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OSU hospitals spark change in South Korea

Courtesy of the Wexner Medical Center

After traveling about 7,000 miles and crossing 14 time zones, visitors from the Samsung Cancer Center in Seoul, South Korea, landed in Columbus.

Six visitors from Samsung came to the U.S. to tour three cancer centers, to learn from them and take back ideas to their own cancer center. The Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University Medical Center, since renamed the Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University, was their first stop.

Jeff Walker, senior executive director of administration for the Comprehensive Cancer Center and James Cancer Hospital, said the group, comprised of one administrator and five physicians, was attracted to OSU because of the institution’s reputation.

“They wanted to understand how we function. The three cancer centers they chose are all very differently structured, but they are all internationally recognized,” Walker said.

The group also visited the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and John Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore.

Walker said that Samsung is the most similar to OSU.

“They have a very similar model as us, so they wanted to see our structure and how we govern … how we fit in with the whole hospital and the university,” Walker said.

Being a fairly new cancer center, Walker said Samsung reached out to OSU to observe and improve their practices at home. The cancer center opened in March 2008.

“They built a new cancer hospital in Seoul. It opened three or four years ago, and they wanted to see how we ran our operation,” Walker said.

Dr. Keunchil Park, professor of oncology at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine and doctor at Samsung, said a friend suggested he visit OSU.

“He said that you have a strong research infrastructure,” Park said in an email, which is something he said the center hopes to improve on.

Dr. Michael Caligiuri, director of the OSU Cancer Center and CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, said he expects Samsung to tweak some aspects of their operation upon returning to Seoul.

“They are more likely to build their cancer center with research,” Caligiuri said, citing the importance of the extensive cancer research done at OSU. “The discoveries made in clinical research are broadly applied all over the world.”

Park said aside from a welcome dinner Caligiuri arranged on the day of their arrival, what he enjoyed most was the OSU medical center staff’s passion for their work.

“To learn how big a change you’ve made in such a short period of time under a strong leadership despite difficult surroundings,” Park said. “Your people seemed to be very committed to what they are doing and it really impressed me.”

Following the international visit, Park said he recognized some facets of the Samsung operation that could be improved.

“Frankly speaking, Samsung CCC needs to make much more improvement in the research field, though we have very strong clinical activities in many aspects. I am happy to explore the possibilities of collaboration between the two institutions,” Park said.

Walker said he hopes to see future cooperation between the two cancer centers, and others worldwide, calling it, “a good opportunity to meet, help, and understand … it was a great opportunity to collaborate internationally.”


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