cancer care

Stefanie Rogers (left), talks with Victoria Sarris, RN, and Thomas Fynan, MD, on her last day of treatment at the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in North Haven.



It might be hard to imagine that a cancer center could feel comfortable, but the people and environment at the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in North Haven made a frightening and difficult time in Stefanie Rogers' life a little easier.

"They treat all patients with respect and care here," Rogers said during a recent visit. "They make you feel at home."

The cancer care center, located in Yale- New Haven Hospital's North Haven Medical Center, is close to Rogers' house. During six months of treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma, she formed close relationships with the staff and her oncologist, Thomas Fynan, MD.

Fostering these kinds of relationships and giving patients throughout Connecticut access to Smilow specialists, advanced therapies, clinical trials, comprehensive support services and other resources are integral to the Smilow vision.

"When leaders of Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale Cancer Center began planning for Smilow Cancer Hospital, they sought to create one of the top ten cancer centers in the country," said Arthur Lemay, executive director, Smilow Cancer Network. "That meant investing in people and research and building a network."

"The goal is that a patient should not have to travel more than 30 minutes from home to receive Smilow-level care," added Catherine Lyons, RN, executive director, Patient Care Services, Smilow Cancer Hospital.

That goal has been realized in many areas of Connecticut, with 10 Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers providing medical oncology and/or radiation oncology, and some also offering imaging, laboratory and other services. The network also includes Smilow Cancer Hospital at Saint Francis in Hartford and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Greenwich, the latter providing inpatient and outpatient services.

The network is growing as Smilow acquires more private oncology practices. But even with experienced specialists at these practices, the process of becoming a Smilow network member takes at least six months – frequently longer. It involves implementation teams of physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers from Smilow, along with representatives from Pharmacy, Information Technology Services, Health Information Management and other departments.

The teams work with local practices to ensure they meet certain regulatory requirements, follow Smilow treatment protocols and procedures, implement Smilow's electronic medical record system and have – or have access to – a specialized pharmacy that can mix chemotherapy drugs. Those without a pharmacy onsite can use Smilow's telepharmacy program, in which pharmacists remotely oversee drug mixing. The program won a national safety award 2014.

Lyons said the implementation process for network members benefits everyone involved, with Smilow staff learning from practice physicians and staff and vice versa, and patients receiving exceptional care.

Rogers agreed. "As a community, we're really blessed to have Smilow so close by."

The Smilow Cancer Network

  • Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven
  • Smilow Cancer Hospital Greenwich Hospital Campus
  • Smilow Cancer Hospital Saint Francis Hospital Campus
  • Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers: Derby; Fairfield; Shoreline Medical Center, Guilford; North Haven Medical Center; Old Saybrook Medical Center; Orange; Torrington; Trumbull; The Harold Leever Regional Cancer Center, Waterbury; Hamden Radiation Oncology.
The teams work with local practices to ensure they meet certain regulatory requirements, follow Smilow treatment protocols and procedures, implement Smilow's electronic medical record system and have – or have access to – a specialized pharmacy that can mix chemotherapy drugs. Those without a pharmacy onsite can use Smilow's telepharmacy program, in which pharmacists remotely oversee drug mixing. The program won a national safety award 2014.