Patient Choice in Cancer Care


A few weeks ago, we talked about respect as one of our core values. We’re committed to caring for patients as we would want to be cared for – with respect, dignity and empathy.

Choice is another of our key values. When it comes to choosing a doctor and a plan of action, we believe that patients should know all their options.

Unfortunately, in today’s competitive healthcare environment, many people who receive a cancer diagnosis are locked in from the very beginning. That’s happens when their family doctor refers them to an oncologist who practices within the same health system without offering information about other alternatives.

Choice locally is about true choice, not the choices that people are giving you.

Barry Goettsch, CEO of Marengo Memorial Hospital (MMH), doesn’t agree with that approach. He and his team have made a conscious decision to provide patients with autonomy and full choice. Although MMH partners with UnityPoint Health for tertiary (highly specialized) care, the hospital is committed to providing area residents with convenient options.

Marengo Memorial Hospital is a rural hospital with a service area of about 15,000 citizens from ten communities. Mr. Goettsch indicates that: “The medical specialties available in rural communities can be a mixed bag. It’s our mission to provide remarkable care to the communities we serve. Part of that mission is to seek out specialty care so our citizens don’t have to drive 30-40 minutes to a larger area or wait long-term to see a specialist when they want to see someone now.”

To make it easy for residents to see a specialist close to home, MMH partners with highly regarded physicians who travel to an MMH clinic. Dr. Ghosh is one of these experts. He sees oncology and hematology patients on a weekly basis at MMH and once a month at their Williamsburg Family Clinic.

The relationship works well. In Mr. Goettsch’s words: “We seek out only the best to partner with.” He’s also proud that MMH has the autonomy to give people options when making decisions about their healthcare, rather than requiring them to use providers tied to a certain organization. He goes on to say that “Choice locally is about true choice – not the choices that people are giving you.”

Watch the Video

Want to hear from Barry Goettsch firsthand? Watch our interview and check out other videos on our YouTube