Middlesex Hospital will open a new cancer center in Westbrook in early November to provide a range of cancer care for its growing patient base from the shoreline area.
The new center greatly expands the cancer care being offered at the hospital’s Westbrook facility, fully re-creating the range of service offered in Middletown.
Hospital CEO Vincent Capece said 35 percent to 40 percent of the cancer center’s patients come from shoreline towns, and historically the hospital has lost patients to other care centers because they or a family member can’t make the 30-plus-minute drive each way five days a week.
“For a long time, we’ve wanted to have a cancer center on the shoreline similar to what we have in Middletown,” Capece said. “By doing this, we’re trying to make it easier for those patients and service their needs in a better way.”
Middlesex Hospital has practices and offices throughout Middlesex County, and its cancer centers will now meet the two population concentrations centered around Middletown and the shoreline, Capece said.
The Westbrook center will have about 14 people working there daily, including four new positions created with its opening.
The new cancer center uses renovated and expanded space at Middlesex Hospital’s three-year-old building in Westbrook that includes radiology, emergency and primary care services.
The hospital is holding a public open house Oct. 7 for potential patients to see and tour the new center, and it will begin treating its first patients in late October or early November for diagnoses, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer.
The existing laboratory, outpatient and emergency departments in the Westbrook facility, at 250 Flat Rock Place, are an asset to the coming cancer treatment, said Dr. Joseph Weissberg, senior attending physician of radiation oncology.
“Patients come every day for weeks. The openness, the accessibility, the parking here, these are tremendous assets,” Weissberg said. “A good team needs access to oncology and lab services, and we have all of that here.”
Patient care at the cancer center starts with a referral from a primary care physician or a specialist when a screening leads to a cancer diagnosis. Doctors will first get an image of the patient’s cancer using the CT Simulator, an advanced CT scanning machine, which will then be analyzed by physicists, radiology therapists, doctors and surgeons to develop a care plan.
The Westbrook facility will have the same linear accelerator that delivers the high-dose but precise radiation treatment to a patient’s cancer cells.
“The bottom line of all this, what this leads to, is higher radiation doses and higher cure rates,” Weissberg said.
The cancer center, like the flagship center in Middletown, will also include services like occupational and physical therapy, speech therapy, massage therapy, counseling and genetic counseling, said Justin Drew, Middlesex Hospital’s cancer center director.
Drew said one of the primary goals is efficiency. Many patients are healthy, active and working full time, and can receive their daily treatment in as little as 15 minutes on days they don’t also have other appointments for therapy or counseling.