Markey Network Benefits from NCI Comprehensive Designation

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UK Markey Cancer Center’s comprehensive NCI designation isn’t just a victory for Markey and nearby patients in Lexington; it’s a win for hospitals and patients across the state and beyond, according to physicians and administrators whose facilities are members of the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate and Research Networks (MCCAN/MCCRN).

The statewide network of 19 community hospitals expands Markey’s reach to Appalachia and rural Kentucky, playing a role in the comprehensive-level designation. In return, the Markey honor brings the ability to offer patients additional clinical research trials and cancer services, and ultimately means more opportunities for patients to receive cutting-edge treatment and quality care close to home.

“I want to emphasize how important these networks have been to us,” said Mark Evers, M.D., director of the Markey Cancer Center. “With the comprehensive designation, the expectation is that your investigators and clinicians are outside the ‘ivory tower’ and focused on the problems in our catchment area. That is getting out to Hazard, Paducah, Maysville and Morehead. We are more than a cancer center in Lexington and that is a critical aspect we have demonstrated to NCI.”

UK King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland has been part of MCCAN since 2017 and a member of the Markey Cancer Center Research Network (MCCRN) since 2015. With more than 64,000 patient encounters in the infusion suites at the Ashland and Portsmouth, Ohio, locations last year, the program is high volume and serves an 11-county area that is about the size of New Jersey and includes Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

“We have 43 active clinical trials now,” said Sara Marks, president and CEO of UK King’s Daughters Medical Center. “The affiliation and the comprehensive cancer center designation allow us to offer more clinical trials and services. And it’s important to note that the designation is a huge benefit in the retention and recruitment of physicians.”

“It’s always a challenge to recruit in a rural area and as I interview candidates, they are thrilled and interested to learn about the comprehensive designation.”

Sara Marks

John Montville, executive director of oncology at Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, which joined MCCAN in 2020, said the designation is a beacon for high-quality oncology. “Patients fighting a disease like cancer want to know they are getting the highest level of care possible. They look for quality indicators,” he said. “Comprehensive designation is not handed out lightly. It puts them in the top tier of cancer programs in the nation.”

The Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital cancer program received Commission on Cancer (CoC) accreditation in 2022 and is opening a new cancer center in July, pulling all services together in one convenient location. Having a seamless referral process through MCCAN to Markey has been integral to the growth of the program, said Montville.

Meadowview Regional Medical Center in Maysville became a MCCAN affiliate in 2021 and received CoC accreditation in 2023. “Markey’s comprehensive designation brings an even higher level of credibility to the program and raises the bar,” said Joe Koch, CEO. “This helps us ensure that our local and regional community can receive quality care close to home.”

For job candidates, including physicians, the designation is a draw, Koch added. “Without the relationship with Markey, some candidates would probably not engage in conversation with us,” he said. “It’s also helping us keep UK medical students in state after residencies and fellowships.” Clinical staff also appreciate the variety of CME opportunities available through the network, As clinical education is an important offering of the affiliation.

“Our affiliate sites represent Markey Cancer Center, and comprehensive designation is a significant achievement that goes above the bar,” said Cheri Tolle, administrative director of MCCAN. “A comprehensive center deserves a comprehensive network. Together, we share an optimistic vision for the health of our state.”


  • Clark Regional Medical Center, Winchester
  • Georgetown Community Hospital, Georgetown
  • Harlan ARH Hospital, Harlan
  • Harrison Memorial Hospital, Cynthiana
  • Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, Hazard
  • Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center, Prestonsburg
  • UK King’s Daughters, Ashland
  • Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, Somerset
  • Meadowview Regional Medical Center, Maysville
  • Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital, Paducah
  • Middlesboro ARH Hospital, Middlesboro
  • Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, Owensboro
  • Rockcastle Regional Hospital, Mt. Vernon
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Edgewood
  • Taylor Regional Hospital, Campbellsville
  • The Medical Center at Bowling Green, Bowling Green
  • TJ Samson Community Hospital, Glasgow
  • Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center, South Williamson


  • Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, Hazard
  • UK King’s Daughters, Ashland
  • Owensboro Health, Owensboro
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Edgewood
  • The Medical Center at Bowling Green, Bowling Green

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