Bill Schmitt
Senior Communications Manager
Department of External Affairs
Request an Interview

ChristianaCare Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute’s Onsite Primary Care Practice Earns 2022 Innovator Award from Association of Community Cancer Centers

ChristianaCare’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute is the recipient of The Association of Community Cancer Center’s (ACCC) 2022 Innovator Award for its person-centered model of care that embeds a primary care provider in the cancer center for patients undergoing treatment who do not have a primary care provider.

  Downloadable Assets   |     View Video

The Graham Cancer Center is among the first cancer programs in the nation to offer a program of this kind to its patients.

“Earning the prestigious ACCC Innovator Award for our primary care practice is an accomplishment that belongs to our entire cancer care team which has worked long and hard to develop this unique program designed to improve our patients’ long-term health,” said Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., Bank of America endowed medical director of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.

Patients diagnosed with cancer frequently have one or more concurrent chronic diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, COPD and diabetes. Cancer treatment can make these chronic medical problems worse, so it is important for patients to continue to see a primary care provider during their treatment, which can also help eliminate unnecessary emergency department visits.

The new Primary Care Practice builds on the success of the Graham Cancer Center’s Oncology Express Unit, a program that offers urgent care to cancer patients in distress during treatment.

“We conducted an informal survey that found as many as 15 percent of our patients did not have their own primary care provider,” said Cancer Program Clinical Director Cindy Waddington, MSN, RN, AOCN. “Having a primary care provider onsite working closely with the entire cancer care team helps ensure that essential patient care beyond cancer treatment is not delayed,” Waddington said.

Patients are referred to the practice by their oncologists for any non-cancer health concerns. Since opening in January 2021, the program has received referrals to care for 234 patients.

“Primary care in oncology has been a long-standing challenge for cancer patients and cancer programs,” said Family Nurse Practitioner Debra Delaney, RN, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-BC, who provides primary care services at the Graham Cancer Center. “Thankfully, we’ve been able to solve that challenge by addressing the whole person and promoting healthy living for the long-term.”

Delaney helps patients manage their chronic medical conditions by monitoring their labs, refilling prescriptions and coordinating and communicating about any referrals they many need.

“Following their cancer treatment, we help our patients transition to another practice, so they can continue to receive care for their primary care needs,” she said.

The ACCC featured the program on its BuzzBlog.

According to the ACCC, Innovator Award winners demonstrate the ability to advance the goals of improving access, quality and value in cancer care delivery, while also providing replicable solutions for other cancer programs and practices.


Need an expert source?

Our Experts, ChristianaCare's expert database, can help you find the right source for your next news story.

Request an interview ➜

About ChristianaCare

Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, ChristianaCare is one of the country’s most dynamic health care organizations, centered on improving health outcomes, making high-quality care more accessible and lowering health care costs. ChristianaCare includes an extensive network of primary care and outpatient services, home health care, urgent care centers, three hospitals (1,430 beds), a freestanding emergency department, a Level I trauma center and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, a comprehensive stroke center and regional centers of excellence in heart and vascular care, cancer care and women’s health. It also includes the pioneering Gene Editing Institute.

ChristianaCare is nationally recognized as a great place to work, rated by Forbes as the 2nd best health system for diversity and inclusion, and the 29th best health system to work for in the United States, and by IDG Computerworld as one of the nation’s Best Places to Work in IT. ChristianaCare is rated by Healthgrades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals and continually ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek and other national quality ratings. ChristianaCare is a nonprofit teaching health system with more than 260 residents and fellows. With its groundbreaking Center for Virtual Health and a focus on population health and value-based care, ChristianaCare is shaping the future of health care.

About the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute
The Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, a National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program, is part of the ChristianaCare, one of the country’s most dynamic health systems, centered on improving health outcomes, making high-quality care more accessible and lowering health care costs. With more than 245,000 patient visits last year, the Graham Cancer Center is recognized as a national model for multidisciplinary cancer care and a top enroller in U.S. clinical research trials. In conjunction with the Gene Editing Institute, the Center for Translational Cancer Research, the Tissue Procurement Center, statewide High-Risk Family Cancer Registry and collaborations with world-renowned scientists at facilities such as The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia scientists are opening new avenues to more quickly translate cancer science into cancer medicine. For more information, visit