From: Adelson, Jeff
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 4:51 PM
To: Dubyak, Meghan M. EOP/OVP
Following a speech to the American Cancer Research Association about the administration's initiative to cure cancer, Vice President Joe Biden toured University Medical Center in New Orleans, where he met with medical staff and local officials.
The $1 billion hospital in New Orleans' Mid-City neighborhood opened last year and is the successor to Charity Hospital, the state-run facility which was closed after flooding during Hurricane Katrina.
First, Biden greeted a dozen nurses in the hospital's oncology clinic, hugging several and taking pictures with the group before introducing them to the nurse who travels with him.
"If there are angels in heaven, they're all nurses," Biden said.
Following that, he held a 40-minute discussion with medical staff at the hospital, including nurses, doctors and administrators, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu that was focused on the experience of those treating patients with cancer.
Biden referred back to his own families experiences with loss of his son Beau, who died of cancer last year.
"You tend to learn a lot about a subject when you confront a problem, whatever that problem is," Biden said. "As a family, like many families, we've unfortunately been significant consumers of healthcare."
Biden said the family realized his son's diagnosis was "a death sentence" but that new techniques had given the family some hope and shown the major advancements that had been made in oncology in recent years. And, he said, the pace of research is speeding up and reaching and "inflection point" that he argued would lead to even more effective treatments
"The progress you've seen, doc, in the last 20 years, that's been eclipsed in the last year, maybe in the last six months," Biden said to Dr. Cindy Lessinger, a hematologist and oncologist.
Lessinger had previously told Biden that the "changes I've seen in my career have been nothing short of miraculous."
Biden also used the opportunity to focus on critiques that were the central part of his speech earlier in the day, chiefly that researchers needed to collaborate more and that data gathered during cancer research should be shared.
He noted that some journals require researchers not to share data from their studies for a year after publication and contrasted that with how the federal government handles data from its projects.
"We do research in outer space that has national security ramifications and its required to be shared instantly," Biden said.
He also once again praised the nurses in the room as those on the front lines and suggested they are becoming ever more important - and their jobs are becoming more complex - as treatments are tailored to specific patients.
"The specific reaction of a specific patient to a specific treatment matters a whole lot," Biden said.
"You can tell, I'll bet you, looking into a patient's eyes watching how they more or shake whether they're going to be able to tolerate the treatment," he added later.
The New Orleans Advocate
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