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UK HealthCare and Lexington Clinic plan to partner in an effort to provide more and better cancer care to their patients.

The deal will further the University of Kentucky’s goal to provide better outpatient services to its patients and allow Lexington Clinic patients access to the higher-level cancer care offered at UK’s Markey Cancer Center, officials said. The partnership also will expand UK’s access to patients for clinical research trials.

“We’re excited about this,” said Mark Newman, executive vice president of health affairs at UK HealthCare. “This gives our patients access to more locations and makes it easier for them to be seen.”

Lexington Clinic CEO Andrew Henderson said his organization diagnoses 20 new cancer patients a week.

“This provides care in our facilities with the academic excellence that UK provides,” he said.

The two entities have entered into a 90-day period for due diligence, allowing further negotiations on how the partnership and payments will work. Right now, it’s envisioned that oncology, infusion and radiation services currently provided by Lexington Clinic at the John D. Cronin Cancer Center on Harrodsburg Road in Lexington and the Richmond Regional Oncology Center in Richmond will be delivered in coordination with UK’s Markey Cancer Center. UK will look at buying some equipment and other assets that now belong to the Lexington Clinic.

Markey is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center in the state. The Lexington Clinic was founded in 1920 and has more than 200 providers in 30 different specialties at more than 20 locations around Central Kentucky. Their two largest locations are on South Broadway and North Eagle Creek Drive.

This agreement is the second big expansion that UK has made recently in Lexington. In August, UK announced it was buying a majority stake in the Lexington Surgery Center to give its patients easier and cheaper access to routine outpatient surgeries.

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Newman and Henderson insist that the cancer agreement is not the first step in a larger acquisition for UK.

“For 98 years, we have been independent and we like our independence,” Henderson said. “We will partner with entities where there’s mutual interest for the benefit of our patients.”

Lexington Clinic currently refers patients to all the Lexington hospitals for more advanced cancer care, said marketing director Brandon Thomas. It’s not clear how the new agreement might affect St. Joseph Hospital or Central Baptist Hospital, the two biggest cancer care providers after UK.

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