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Harris Health's New Addition to Provide More Digestive, Colon Cancer Screenings

HOUSTON (March 7, 2024) — A new addition at Quentin Mease Health Center, a Harris Health System specialty facility rededicated in 2023, promises to provide patients with more early cancer detection and prevention procedures. Through the Harris Health Endoscopy Center at Quentin Mease, staff will perform colonoscopies and other diagnostic exams for cancer in a more convenient location for patients.

The 8,000-square-foot center features eight procedure suites, 11 pre-operative beds and 18 post-operative beds. It opened in January with two procedure suites with plans to increase operations over the next two years. When fully operational, staff expect to perform more than 17,000 procedures annually. 

“Sadly, there are many patients needing colonoscopies and other exams every day in our community,” reports Alice Kohler, nursing director, Harris Health Endoscopy Center. “We know that any delays in getting a quick diagnosis can result in poor outcomes for otherwise treatable cancers. Patients receiving timely screenings and getting them into treatment is a priority at the new center.”

While a bulk of the screening involve colonoscopies, one of best screening tools for cancers of the rectum and lower colon, additional screenings include esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), exams of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine, as well as gallbladder, pancreas, liver and digestive tract. Unfortunately, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. for both men and women. Among African Americans, colorectal cancer is about 20% more likely diagnosed with about 40% more likely to die from it compared to other ethnic groups, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Our new center allows us to expand access and support the needs of our patients to receive timely and appropriate treatment,” adds Matthew Reeder, administrator, Ambulatory Care Services, Harris Health. “Through our specialty location, patients can receive these in a brand new and comfortable environment.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the routine screening for colorectal cancer at age 45 or 50 for men and women. However, with increasing rates of colorectal cancer among younger adults (ages 20-49), CDC recommends greater awareness by patients about their risk factors. 

CDC recommends a colonoscopy if:
  • Age 45 or older
  • Family history or other risk factors for cancer
  • Experiencing suspicious symptoms such as change in bowel habits, blood in stool, anemia and fatigue or unexplained weight loss
“Our executive leadership team recognized the need for this state-of-the-art endoscopy center because we know it will save lives,” says Jennifer Small, AuD, executive vice president and administrator, Ambulatory Care Services, Harris Health. “The expansion of our specialty services is a great example of how Harris Health uses its resources and is responsive to the needs of our community.”

The Harris Health Endoscopy Center at Quentin Mease Health Center is a collaboration with physicians and faculty from Baylor College of Medicine and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. It joins a variety of specialty services in the five-story (132,000 square feet) facility. In 2023, the facility became home to the relocation of two major services: Thomas Street at Quentin Mease for the treatment and care of HIV and infectious diseases and the Harris Health Dialysis Center for the care of patients in need of hemodialysis and home-based (peritoneal) dialysis.