By: Kathleen Gray, RN
Sanjay Hapani, MD, has been taking care of oncology (cancer) patients at Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) for the past four years. He treats all types of cancers and hematological disorders. In addition, Dr. Hapani has a private practice near Mercy Hospital.
Through a chance encounter several years ago, Dr. Hapani met OKCIC’s Oncology Case Manager, Kathleen Gray, RN. He was taking care of an OKCIC patient with breast cancer at the time and Gray was able to introduce him to OKCIC.
There are many benefits to having an oncologist on-site. One big reason is that patients are able to see Dr. Hapani at their medical home without being referred to an unfamiliar facility. Another is that their primary care physician at OKCIC is able to view Dr. Hapani’s notes, which keeps everyone on the same page in regards to the patients’ health. This is important because so much information can be lost in translation when a patient with a complicated diagnosis is seen in multiple facilities. Also, patients are able to use OKCIC’s pharmacy, lab and radiology services for anything Dr. Hapani requests. It is certainly a big bonus having Dr. Hapani on-site so patients do not have to go through the Indian Health Service (IHS) for referrals to consult or follow-up with him regularly. The only time a patient needs a referral is when they need to start IV chemotherapy, which cannot be done at OKCIC.
Dr. Hapani developed a fondness for working with Native people when he was at Mercy in Ada, Oklahoma, and saw many patients from the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center. He understands and appreciates the unique hurdles Native people face when accessing care for critical, life threatening diseases, such as cancer.
In addition to patients with cancer, Dr. Hapani sees patients with anemia, clotting disorders or any other hematological problem.
“I was told that my iron is low since the birth of my daughter 15 years ago,” Shantilly House said. “All these years I dealt with being extremely exhausted and had horrible leg cramps. This was my daily life because nobody told me that I needed to have my iron corrected. Dr. Hapani’s care literally changed my life. Because of him I am now going to college and pursuing a degree in nursing. I am so thankful to Dr. Hapani and everything OKCIC has done for me.”
“American Indian people deserve the best health care possible,” Dr. Hapani said. “Native people have many resources available to them, but it can be difficult to piece it all together.”
Good case management and benefit coordination is key to ensuring Native people get the best oncology care possible. This is why OKCIC is here, to provide excellent health care to American Indians, one patient at a time.
Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Make an appointment with your primary care provider to get screened for any life-threatening diseases by calling (405) 948-4900.