Erlanger, Vandy form cancer collaboration

Erlanger Health System and Vanderbilt University Medical Center have entered into a professional service agreement designing a long-term collaboration in cancer care, including hematology-oncology services at Erlanger Oncology and Hematology and infusion locations.

The agreement establishes the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center as Erlanger's exclusive contracted provider of adult inpatient and outpatient hematology-oncology services and medical directorship for the program. The agreement does not affect Erlanger's relationship with its medical staff, nor does it prevent other hematologist-oncologists from providing care in Erlanger's hospitals.

"This collaborative effort offers a unique and important opportunity for Erlanger to not only access the most clinical trials for adults in cancer care, but also to provide the most comprehensive cancer treatment program in this region," said Tanner Goodrich, vice president of operations. "By teaming with Vanderbilt, we will be able to continue to expand our cutting-edge cancer care services to the many communities we serve."

Through the agreement, VICC provides medical direction and board-certified hematologists and oncologists as part of the nationally leading cancer care as an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.


EV innovation challenge set

The Tennessee Valley Authority and Chattanooga's EPB are partnering with CO.LAB and green|spaces to host the inaugural Gig City Innovation Challenge - EV Edition during Startup Week in Chattanooga later this month.

The contest provides an opportunity for students from universities across the country to work together virtually to address challenges in the energy sector.

"Between EPB, with one of the most advanced smart grids in the world, and the operational center of the TVA serving 10 million people in seven states, Chattanooga is an ideal sandbox for innovation in the energy space," said Michael Walton, executive director of green|spaces, a nonprofit that is dedicated to sustainability in the region.

The specific challenge will focus on enhancing the adoption of electric vehicles, and students will have 48 hours to formulate their solution that addresses the challenge provided at the beginning of the event. After the 48 hours, teams will submit their recorded pitches to the judges, who will then select four finalist teams to pitch at a virtual public event on Friday, Oct. 23 as part of this year's Startup Week Chattanooga. The teams who win first, second and third place will be awarded $5,000, $3,000 and $1,000, respectively.

"We are excited to engage some of the nation's top emerging talent through this challenge and not only accelerate the participants' careers but also innovation in the energy sector," said CO.LAB chief executive officer Marcus Shaw.

The Gig City Innovation Challenge will culminate in a virtual public pitch event on Friday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. The application period for students ends on Sunday, Oct. 11. You can find more information at


Applications sought for energy assistance

As temperatures decrease and energy use grows, Chattanooga Gas reminded customers that federal assistance is available to aid low-income households pay their winter heating bills.

Enrollment for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded grant program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is underway for those families with incomes below 150% of the poverty level. The financial assistance is available until money for the program runs out, so customers are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible in Hamilton County at the Office of Family Empowerment (formerly known as Chattanooga Human Services) in Hamilton County can be reached at 423-643-6434 and in Bradley County and the Bradley-Cleveland Community Services Agency at 423-479-4111.

Additional funding is available to assist eligible customers impacted by COVID-19 through the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Customers may apply for this program along with regular LIHEAP assistance through local state agencies in their areas.

"We recognize that colder weather can increase strain on household budgets due to higher energy use," said Pedro Cherry, president and CEO of Chattanooga Gas. "Especially during this pandemic, we are committed to connecting customers with their local social services offices to identify available assistance programs that can help this winter."


HCA admissions ER visits decline

HCA Healthcare said its facility admissions declined by 4% in the third quarter and emergency room visits in the past three months were down 20% from a year ago. But the Nashville-based hospital chain, which operates three Parkridge hospitals in the Chattanooga area, expects quarterly profits in the third quarter to total $950 million compared with $979 million a year ago.

HCA said it will return, or repay early, approximately $6 billion of government assistance funds received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ("CARES") Act.

Results for the third quarter of 2020 include a reversal of $822 million in government stimulus income recorded in the second quarter of 2020 related to general distribution funds received from the Provider Relief Fund established by the CARES Act. Results for the third quarter of 2019 included losses on retirement of debt of $211 million.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner