Albany, Amsterdam, Hudson, Rexford, Troy and now Clifton Park.
New York Oncology Hematology hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for its new treatment center in Clifton Park. Though the center has been open to patients since early May, the event was held in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day and to present the state-of-the-art facility to the public.
Dr. Nini Wu, NYOH president, summarized the practice’s goals.
“We want to make sure our patients can live longer, but also live well,” she said.
The Clifton Park Cancer Center is one of seven community-based oncology practices in the region and one of 350 across the nation.
The 28,000-square-foot building includes a 30-person chemotherapy infusion site, several exam rooms, X-ray and CT imaging centers, and a pharmacy.
It is also home to a Varian TrueBeam Radiotherapy System. The machine offers the most advanced radiation treatment available and is the only one of its kind north of New York City. This technology is expected to help NYOH continue its reputation as the largest provider of care for cancer and blood disorder patients in the region.
According to NYOH, the TrueBeam is capable of several imaging techniques to pinpoint a treatment area and deliver radiation more precisely, sparing healthy body tissue and reducing side effects.
“It’s an incredible machine with the speed, intuition and safety features that help us do a better job of protecting our patients while treating them,” said chief radiation therapist Ashley Benincasa. “I’m very excited to be treating here.”
Benincasa started working for NYOH nine years ago and was transferred to the new location.
“This place is beyond words,” she added. “The patients love it because it’s comfortable and doesn’t feel like a hospital, and it’s clear the developer took that into consideration when building it.”
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, was also impressed by NYOH’s efforts and the final result.
“I’ve seen firsthand the staff here is a powerful team that really brings a comfort and warmth to what they’re doing,” he said. “They’ve been a tremendous and positive force in the community.”
Tonko has been involved with the project since its groundbreaking exactly one year ago and is a proponent for more community-based treatment centers.
“The staff here is providing affordable and accessible care, and I really appreciate who they are as individuals and collectively as a team,” he added.
Dr. Rufus Collea, a breast cancer specialist and NYOH’s medical director, is a leader on this staff. He said he respects his patients and takes his job very personally.
“I’ve met a lot of incredible women who face their disease with such courage and strength,” he said. “This is an opportunity for me to help these patients in my own community.”
Friday’s event heard stories from some of these patients, like Erin Davison of Niskayuna, a two-time breast cancer survivor.
“My diagnosis was a shock to me, and things moved very quickly,” she said. “The people at NYOH get it. They recognize the role they play, understand our trepidation and help put our minds at ease.”
Tom Corrigan, a 15-year chronic lymphoma leukemia survivor, also had kind words for his experience at NYOH.
“Being assigned here was a blessing,” he said. “You can’t ask for a better operation than they have here.”
Among the positive stories of NYOH’s successes, medical advancements and technological expertise, Collea shared mixed feelings.
“It’s sort of disappointing we have buildings dedicated to cancer,” he said. “However, I’m really hopeful that we will celebrate a day when we can close this building down, and that’ll be the best day.”