By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer
March 12, 2013 - A new bio skills training and whole body donation facility in Long Beach is serving both the medical community and those families looking for a way to give to medical research, education and training.
Science Care, headquartered in Arizona, accepts whole body donation to be used by working surgeons and doctors for continuing education and training in medical device placement and other procedures. The company opened its newest location at Douglas Park last November.
“Locating in Douglas Park in Long Beach was an easy decision,” Science Care CEO and President James Rogers said in statement to the Business Journal. “The location is beautiful with easy access for donor families and visiting physicians. The combination of convenience, beautiful weather and great beaches, local entertainment, lodging and restaurant options is tough to beat.”
Rogers said he holds Long Beach near and dear to his heart, having started his career in pre-planning for funeral care here in 1994. Over the course of his work in funeral planning, Rogers encountered families and individuals looking to donate to medical research, according to Melinda Ellsworth, director of donor services. Realizing there was no clear, simple way to do this, Rogers spent two years studying transplant tissue banks and their business models. What he found was that there was a niche in the market for whole body donation to medical training and research, Ellsworth said. So he drafted a business plan and in 2000 Rogers and his wife, Josie, launched Science Care.
“At the time he started this, the industry didn’t exist,” Ellsworth said. Rogers modeled Science Care on other transplant organizations, which are accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Following the leaders in organ transplantation, Rogers sought to gain accreditation for Science Care to align its quality of service standards with those businesses, according to Ellsworth. “From the very beginning, his vision has been to be a leader,” she said. AATB worked with Science Care to create a specific accreditation on the new business model, and the company became the first to offer accredited whole body donation programs.
Rogers’ ultimate goals for Science Care are to make a positive contribution to life and the local community, and be a responsible steward for whole body donation, he said. “While Science Care is a whole body donation program, the nature of what we do is to make life better for the living through the gift of donation,” Rogers said. “We know there is a great need to provide Southern California residents with a way to donate as it is both a beautiful legacy and a no cost option to funeral arrangements.”
Moreover, Rogers said the opportunities available at Science Care to healthcare providers help improve safety and patient outcomes of surgical procedures. Science Care trains more than 15,000 physicians nationwide each year. The Long Beach facility is the largest independent training location in the area, according to the facility’s manager Kelsy Wyse. The laboratory has the capacity to accommodate 18 surgical tables. Plus, the facility hosts lectures, hands-on training and medical research and development events in its 80-person classroom and 12-person conference room.
In Long Beach and at its other training facilities in Arizona, Florida, Colorado and New Jersey, Science Care provides a point of access to surgeons and physicians – based both locally and from across the country – to train on nights or weekends, without interfering with regular patient business during the day.
“Every doctor or surgeon who receives hands-on training from Science Care is able to take that knowledge directly back to their patients and community,” Rogers said. “Medical experts agree that hands-on medical training involving the use of human tissue is far superior to knowledge gained by computer simulations, instruction books or plastic models.”
One of Science Care’s clients, Dr. Tahuanty Pena, is an assistant professor of medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan. “If I’m able to do a better procedure, it’s a safer procedure,” he said in a statement. “I worked on my technique during the course to make it better, safer, more efficient. When I came back and started working on real patients, I saw the difference.”
Long Beach is the newest facility for Science Care, but Ellsworth said as a high growth company she expects the business to continue expanding as demand and awareness for whole body donation to medical research increases nationally and internationally.