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Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson to Open Oct. 5

NORTHAMPTON — Yesterday, more than 150 donors, doctors, healthcare administrators, and oncology staff attended a ribbon-cutting and opening ceremony at the new Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

The ceremonial event marks the end of construction of a 16,400-square-foot facility, of which 3,400 square feet is new space and 13,000 square feet is renovated existing space.

Officials at Cooley Dickinson were notified earlier in the day that the Mass. Department of Public Health review is complete and the facility has been approved. Patient care begins in the new center Monday, Oct. 5.

“This is a tremendous day for Cooley Dickinson, Mass General, and for everyone who’s worked so hard to make the Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital a reality,” said Joanne Marqusee, president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care. “We are committed to combining the personal care of a community hospital with access to world-renowned medical experts. That is the promise of the affiliation and the promise of the Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.”

Dr. Sean Mullally, medical director of the Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital and a Mass General Cancer Center physician, said the majority of cancer care can be provided at a community hospital. “In some cases, it does make sense for people to go to the Mass General Cancer Center. In those instances, we are making sure that patients get the right treatment in the right place. And if people need to go to Boston, we make it more convenient for the patient to get there; we coordinate their care with doctors at Mass General who sub-specialize in cancer.”

Mullally said a patient who needs chemotherapy will have access to the same treatment regimens, protocols, and safety as the Mass General Cancer Center. “They can get their chemotherapy here knowing we are following the same clinical guidelines as the Mass General Cancer Center. At Cooley Dickinson, patients are closer to home, surrounded by family and friends, and in more comfortable environment.”

After years of business plans, architectural drawings, and input from patients and community members, the new Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson was designed around the needs of patients and their care team.

“There has been tremendous input from our patients,” Mullally added, noting that their input — coupled with engineering and facility-design best practices — has shaped how care is delivered in the center.

The new facility quadruples the footprint where patients had been receiving care in the oncology medical practice. Highlights include:

• An 18-chair infusion bay for patients receiving chemotherapy with comfortable chairs where some patients can receive treatment for up to eight hours, personal TVs and wi-fi, plus room for a caregiver;

• Four infusion rooms available for those who require more privacy;

• Two large nurses’ stations for patient monitoring;

• Ten exam rooms;

• A multi-disciplinary consultation room for use by different members of a patient’s care team, such as physicians, surgeons, nutritionists, and social workers;

• A videoconferencing room for teleconsultations with Mass General Cancer Center physicians;

• A dedicated reception area with a beverage station;

• A dedicated check-out area that facilitates private conversations for follow-up care;

• A dedicated entrance immediately inside the North Building lobby; and

• Access to convenient parking and valet parking at the North Building entrance.

Taking care of patients in the new center will be medical oncologists Dr. Lindsay Rockwell, Dr. Barrett Newsome, Dr. Sean Mullally, and Dr. Deborah Smith, and radiation oncologists Dr. Linda Bornstein and Dr. Jennifer Hyder. Depending on each patient’s unique circumstances, physicians coordinate care with their colleagues at the Mass General Cancer Center in Boston. Smith will begin seeing patients at Cooley Dickinson in November.

Patients requiring radiation-oncology treatments have access to the Vitkauskas Crowe Radiation Oncology Suite. The linear-accelerator radiation-oncology equipment is the same model used the Mass General Cancer Center in Boston. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapists follow the same safety and treatment protocols as the Mass General Cancer Center.

In addition, Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s pharmacy was renovated and expanded last year as one of the first steps of the construction of the new Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson. The pharmacy is across the hall from the new center. Clinical-oncology pharmacists offer patients the same treatment regimens, protocols, and safety for chemotherapy as the Mass General Cancer Center in Boston. Other improvements include an expanded and state-of-the-art medication-compounding area.

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