The City of Temecula convened a meeting of the Regional Cancer Treatment Task Force on April 20, 2017, launching a comprehensive Community Needs Assessment to identify and address gaps in cancer treatment resources in the area. The Task Force has retained the non-profit research organization Health Assessment and Research for Communities (HARC) to conduct the assessment, which is being funded by contributions from the County of Riverside; the Cities of Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, and Murrieta; and Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP).
In conducting the assessment, HARC will examine demographic and epidemiological data to quantify the impact of cancer on the region’s residents, assess the availability and quality of regional treatment resources across the continuum of care, and assist the Task Force in developing strategies for addressing gaps.
City of Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards praised the effort, stating, “The Regional Cancer Treatment Task Force is a great example of how we can solve difficult problems when we come together as a community. This Community Needs Assessment is an ambitious undertaking, but with regional cooperation we can really make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their caregivers.”
Council Member Mike Naggar, who formed the Task Force after witnessing a family friend struggle with obtaining treatment for her daughter, added, “A key component of our strategy will be the creation of a robust economic development plan to attract and retain world-class medical specialists, researchers, and facilities to our area so that patients don’t have to drive an hour or more for the care they need.”
At each meeting, the Task Force also hears testimonials from individuals personally affected by cancer. One of the most recent speakers, J.J. Petchel, is advocating “Tonya’s Law,” legislation which would mandate DNA sequencing and coverage of targeted therapies for cancer patients. The potential legislation is named in honor of his late wife, Tonya Petchel, who succumbed earlier this year to Stage IV liver cancer. As a result of his and others’ testimonials, the Task Force will begin tracking legislation which may impact treatment availability and affordability.
The next meeting of the Regional Cancer Treatment Task Force will be held on Thursday, May 25, 2017 from 4 pm to 6 pm at the Temecula Civic Center (41000 Main Street). The agenda will include an update on preliminary data collection from HARC, discussion of the formation of a foundation to assist in defraying patient costs, a legislative update, and an overview of insurance and Medicare coverage. The Task Force comprises of a core group of individuals and organizations including County and City elected officials, medical and health organizations, and related professionals with expertise in cancer prevention, research, treatment, and care. If you are interested in learning more about this initiative, please contact the Temecula City Manager’s Office at (951) 506-5100 or email Council.Assistant@TemeculaCA.gov.