Brief History

The Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center (KF-SYSCC) opened as a 52-bed prototype in March 1990. Located in a leased space of Jen-Ai municipal hospital in central Taipei, Taiwan, this young institution committed its early years to developing a patient-centered, evidence-based model of cancer care. Many consultants from renowned hospitals were recruited to provide guidance as KF-SYSCC built programs and trained staff. Among those who were integral in this phase are Drs. Leonard Prosnitz, Duncan Yaggy, Dan Sexton, Wayne Massey, Dan Clarke-Pearson, all from Duke; Dr. Baruch Blumberg of Fox Chase Institute for Cancer Research; and Dr. Peyton Taylor of University of Virginia Cancer Center. 

On this small scale, KF-SYSCC was able to freely experiment with and modify its approach to care, with patients firmly rooted at the center. Even as staff size grew from 140 to 425 during this time, focus on the patient as an individual remained a core value. Patients were known by name and their conditions well-understood by each staff member. Multidisciplinary team-based care, believed to improve patient outcomes, also made this institution unique among Taiwan hospitals. Beginning first with breast cancer care and eventually expanding to other cancer programs, this interdepartmental collaboration and learning became a hallmark of KF-SYSCC's philosophy on medical care.

In November 1994, Guandu, the northwestern suburb of Taipei, was selected as the location of the cancer center's permanent site. Led by Neal Anderson, architecture firm NBBJ of Columbus, Ohio undertook the task of aligning the design of the building with the vision and values of KF-SYSCC. With experience from the prototype, staff members contributed ideas that would help foster patient-centeredness and care of the highest caliber. The new home of KF-SYSCC was completed in about three and a half years.

The move to the Guandu site in August 1997 marked the beginning of a new chapter for KF-SYSCC, as patients, staff, and equipment were transferred to the new facility. By January 1998, the cancer center was ready to expand its clinical services from the original 52 beds to 325, offering high-quality care to a wider population. As its reputation as a provider of humanistic, whole-person care solidified, increasing numbers of patients from Taipei and other regions of Taiwan traveled to Guandu to seek treatment. Staff size grew to meet the needs of this larger patient volume, and residency training programs were developed to directly train new doctors committed to KF-SYSCC's approach to care. With better outcomes than other hospitals, KF-SYSCC now treats approximately 10% of all new breast cancer patients in Taiwan and about 5% of all Taiwan cancer cases, with a staff of 1000.     

Since its inception, KF-SYSCC has further shown its dedication to patients through education and research, with a vision of becoming a leading institution in cancer care in Asia and worldwide. In-house education is available to staff at all levels to ensure that each member stays up-to-date with modern medicine and maintains the highest professional and ethical standards. Morbidity and mortality (M&M) conferences and Performance Improvement Conferences (PIC) are held on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to discuss patient cases, analyze errors, and establish guidelines to improve. To conduct research more relevant to the Taiwanese and Asian demographics, KF-SYSCC has been gathering samples for its frozen tumor tissue bank since 1990 and collecting prospective patient information for its database since 1995. Exciting new research and education initiatives are anticipated with the current construction of a new center devoted to these efforts, with a projected completion date set in 2014.

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