OCCUPATION: Medical director of oncology at University Hospital and Clinics and oncology research director for Lafayette General Health
HOMETOWN: Baton Rouge
In July, Dr. Windy Dean-Colomb began her work at University Hospital and Clinics and Lafayette General Health, where she holds dual roles as oncology director at the public, safety net hospital and oncology research director for the Lafayette General Health System. The oncology clinic at UHC sees about 75 cancer patients weekly and about 100 more weekly for infusion treatments. She said the hospital, in the next year, plans to renovate its clinic area to provide patients a more tranquil environment. She took a brief break from her research on a recent Friday afternoon to chat with The Acadiana Advocate.
Q. Why did you decide to specialize in oncology?
A. I had a brother who was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 23. He died at the age of 24 and during that time we didn’t have health insurance, and he wasn’t able to get such great care initially. I wanted to make sure people who were diagnosed with cancer, especially those who were poor, were able to get the same great care that other people did. We were able to get into the LSU System and get a good oncologist who was able to give him a chance and was very compassionate and caring. I said: This is what I want to do with my life.
Q. Have you always worked at public, safety net hospitals?
A. I did my oncology training at M.D. Anderson but part of our training was to work at the public charity system in Houston, Texas. When I left Houston, I wanted to continue my care with the under served. I went to Mobile, Alabama, where I worked for a small, university-based cancer center, and 20 percent of our population was under served.
Q. Tell me about the work you do here.
A. I’m full-time (as medical director of oncology at University Hospital and Clinics) and see patients there three days a week. I’m also the oncology research director for Lafayette General Health and do basic science research two days a week. We are working on increasing the number of clinical trials and signed our first patient to one of our breast cancer clinical trials. The other thing I do is design experiments.
Q. Are clinical trials new for Lafayette General and UHC?
A. Lafayette General Health has done clinical trials in the past, but they’ve been expanding. Now, there’s commitment with me being one of the hires to bring more clinical trials to the area. Part of what I’m going to be doing is testing new drugs to see if we can come up with a better drug, a better treatment. There’s a bigger picture in play that Lafayette General is trying to do in increasing the research opportunities here. Our goal is one trial for each cancer.
Marsha Sills is a staff writer at The Acadiana Advocate. Follow her on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.