Health Check: New Upper Gastrointestinal Multidisciplinary Clinic

Joseph and Kathy Marsella were supposed to celebrate their 30th anniversary last September but then Joseph got sick.

"I was basically healthy and active and then in September just started not feeling well, had indigestion, and then as the days wore on just started feeling sick," he said.

Joseph went to the emergency room and thought he had the flu. Instead, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"We were a bit overwhelmed by the news and also not feeling well," he said.

Within hours of the diagnosis, the Marsellas received a call from Amy Doorley, coordinator of Rhode Island Hospital's new Upper Gastrointestinal Multidisciplinary Clinic.

"When patients are faced with cancer it's often very overwhelming and stressful for the patient," Doorley said.

"The idea behind it is really to improve the patient experience. It's been known for a long time that the best cancer care is delivered not by an individual doctor but by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, support staff, all working together to care for the patient," said Dr. Kevin Charpentier of Rhode Island Hospital.

That's what Doorley, a nurse practioner, did for Joseph.

"I spoke to the team, got the appropriate team members in line and we coordinated all of Joe's visits the same day for him so that he didn't have multiple trips to different facilities and different offices and everything was done the same day in one trip," she said.

"Joe was able to get in to surgery in less than one week from meeting our team, had definitive surgery for removal of his cancer, so is now cancer free," Charpentier said.

"I had the surgery, had eight weeks of chemo and I also take a chemo pill. And I had six weeks of radiation, which I just finished. A little bit of a break then I have eight more weeks of chemo to go after that," Jospeh said.

Joseph and Kathy are already planning their 31st wedding anniversary in September.

Charpentier says they've received a lot of positive feedback from patients about the clinic.

It's meant for patients to get in for surgery and treatments weeks sooner. It may or may not translate in to better outcomes, but it does help ease anxiety and fear.