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Smilow Cancer Hospital marks a decade of “phenomenal” progress in care, research


In 2008, Kathy Maturo was among those to sign two beams to be installed in the new Smilow Cancer Hospital, which opened to patients Oct. 26, 2009. Smilow will hold a series of 10th anniversary events throughout this year and next, culminating with the tenth annual Closer to Free bike ride Sept. 12, 2020. 

 It was 11 years ago, but Kathy Maturo clearly recalls how she felt as she added her name to thousands of others on a beam that would become part of Yale New Haven Hospital’s new cancer hospital.

For over a week in summer 2008, two beams were displayed outside the cafeteria, and people were given permanent markers to sign their names, share good wishes and remember family and friends who had experienced cancer.

“I was excited that I was signing something that was going to be in the building forever,” said Maturo, now associate director, Geriatric Services, Adler Geriatric Center. “I felt lucky that I got the opportunity to sign one of the beams, and I also thought about how far the hospital had come.”

On Oct. 26, Smilow Cancer Hospital marked 10 years since the first patient walked through the doors of the brand new, 500,000-square-foot inpatient and outpatient facility. Since that day in 2009, Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center have risen to the top echelon as one of the nation’s comprehensive cancer research and care facilities, providing advanced care to patients and families and pioneering cancer research.

“When we opened Smilow Cancer Hospital a decade ago, we knew it would be a game-changer for cancer care in the state of Connecticut,” said Marna P. Borgstrom, Yale New Haven CEO. “The progress we have made in research and in new ways to treat and care for our patients has been nothing short of phenomenal.”

“What our physicians, scientists, nurses, caregivers and staff have been able to accomplish for patients in Connecticut and the region in the last decade is astonishing,” said Charles Fuchs, MD, Smilow physician in chief and Yale Cancer Center director. “We are so proud that Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center have grown into a premier cancer center in Connecticut, around the country and the world.”

Today, Smilow is home to hundreds of physicians and other clinicians, who provide care in 13 cancer specialties. Achievements over the past decade include:

  • Growing to more than 235,000 annual outpatient visits
  • Launching and expanding 15 Smilow Cancer Hospital Cancer Care Centers throughout Connecticut and in Rhode Island
  • Becoming Connecticut’s largest cancer care provider, treating more than 45 percent of the 20,000 patients diagnosed annually
  • Increasing direct cancer research funding to more than $99 million a year
  • Opening a record number of clinical trials (300 now available) and providing the most advanced cancer therapies, including those administered in a phase I clinical trials infusion unit
  • Pioneering research firsts, including immunotherapy treatments and novel drug therapies for many cancers
  • Adding numerous specialty services for patients, such as survivorship care, genetic counseling, screening and prevention education, integrative medicine and more

“It’s gratifying to think of the many patients who have been cared for by our dedicated and talented doctors, nurses and other medical providers over the years, and the researchers who have advanced treatments to identify new lifesaving therapies,” said Dr. Fuchs. “We look forward to continuing to lead the advancement of cancer medicine for our patients and their families in the years to come.”

Clinical care and research are just part of what make Smilow special, according to Maturo, who has had family and friends cared for there.

“It’s remarkable, the way patients are treated,” she said. “They treat the whole person, not just the disease.”

The 10th anniversary also offers an opportunity to acknowledge the support that makes that care possible, including the transformational gift by Joan and Joel Smilow and many other donors – employees among them.

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years,” Maturo said. “We’re lucky to have this amazing cancer hospital right in our own backyard. I’m proud to be part of a health system that’s doing so much for cancer.”