Why CTCA Tulsa closed and how it’s still impacting cancer-stricken patients

TULSA, Okla. — After Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tulsa announced it would be closing its doors in June 2021, FOX23 investigated what forced the closure and its impact on vulnerable, cancer-stricken community.

FOX23′s Julia Gorman first told you about family man and marine veteran David Quicke in April 2021. He’s been fighting cancer for roughly 15 years and moved to Oklahoma from Iowa with his daughter Jennifer and her three children specifically to be treated at CTCA Tulsa.

Right after the facility announced it was closing in late March 2021, Quicke and his daughter told FOX23 they were struggling to get the center to help them transition his care elsewhere.

Meeting up with the family again right before the center closed in early June, the family told FOX23 they were still struggling.

“Two days after the first story aired, was like hey come in and get your shot, and are your meds filled? That was it,” Jennifer Quicke told FOX23, “They basically told us go back to the V-A (Veteran’s Affairs) and start over.”

Quicke is one of thousands of patients who relied on care at CTCA Tulsa. While the facility put out a statement explaining why it had to close, many were left with questions.

FOX23′s Julia Gorman sat down with now-former CTCA Tulsa President Dana Haynie, who explained that for an insurance company to have covered a part of a patient’s care at CTCA Tulsa, what’s called ‘in-network care,’ the facility had to negotiate and sign a contract with the patient’s insurance company. Haynie says it was these contracts, or lack there-of, that weighed the center down.

“We have contracts with a lot of major payers so Cigna, Aetna, United Health Care, we also serve Medicare patients, we have a Medicaid contract, so we’re able to serve a lot of people, but we also do not have access to a large majority of the state because they’re covered under benefit plans that we are not in-network with, so that’s really what created the insurmountable challenge, is not being able to move in-network with those other large payers because of the coverage in the market in our state,” Haynie told FOX23.

Of the large companies, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma did not have a contract with CTCA Tulsa and had not had one for more than 15 years, according to BCBSOK.

Due to the fact that CTCA Tulsa couldn’t access “a large majority” of patients, Haynie said, “it just didn’t make sense for our executive leadership to continue to invest in this market, and so they had to make that decision and will invest in the other markets where they are able to do that and have access to those patients.”

Regardless of why the facility closed, Quicke still has bladder cancer. His treatment has been on hold due to bleeding complications from radiation. He also needs two types of treatment to keep his prostate cancer from coming back. His last appointment at CTCA Tulsa was in late May. At last check in early June, his family still isn’t sure where he’ll be treated next.

“It’s terrifying, just ‘cuz I know the struggle that he’s had with it, and just to watch him, it’s painful, I can tell it’s painful,” said his daughter.

When you ask Quicke about his future, he’s all up-beat.

“Just keep going, think positive, think positive, don’t think negative ‘cuz all that’s gonna do is bring you down, and never go forward,” he tells FOX23.

The reality is, he can only keep moving forward with some help along the way, help that as of early June, he doesn’t have.

FOX23 asked CTCA Tulsa about how many of the more than 400 employees that worked at the facility successfully found other jobs. A public relations representative said they don’t have that number because new jobs aren’t tracked.