Schenectady

Ellis proposes to add pharmacy to new oncology unit in Schenectady

PHOTO PROVIDEDNurse manager Brianna Wells, left, and registered nurse Katrina O'Rourke work in the Roswell Park Care Network site at Ellis Hospital in August 2021, shortly before the new medical oncology center opened to patients.
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PHOTO PROVIDED
Nurse manager Brianna Wells, left, and registered nurse Katrina O'Rourke work in the Roswell Park Care Network site at Ellis Hospital in August 2021, shortly before the new medical oncology center opened to patients.

SCHENECTADY — Several months after Ellis Hospital opened its new medical oncology center, it is proposing to install a satellite pharmacy within it.

The decision comes as patient volume increases at the facility Ellis Medicine operates with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center at the main hospital on Nott Street. 

About 250 cancer patients are now receiving treatment at the site. Ellis wouldn’t say how much of an increase that represents, but did say patient volume has increased beyond the targeted goal since it teamed up with one of the premier cancer treatment providers in upstate New York. 

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Ellis previously offered radiation oncology; it added medical oncology treatment when it opened the Roswell Park Care Network site.

The expanded facility was budgeted at $1.25 million when Ellis sought permission from the state Department of Health to construct it in a vacant section of the B wing. It began seeing patients in the late summer of 2021.

Earlier this month, Ellis sought a certificate of need from DOH to build a small pharmacy on site at a cost of $915,000.

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The main pharmacy is reaching its production capacity for the specialized drugs needed by the oncology unit, Ellis spokesman Philip Schwartz said. The two are also physically separated by six floors.

The application to the state indicates several benefits expected from an embedded pharmacy beyond increased capacity, including quicker turnaround time, closer consultation between caregiver and pharmacist, less waste and easier recruitment of oncology-trained pharmacists. 

It is also a common and best practice for infusion centers to have dedicated pharmacy units, Ellis wrote in its application to the state.

“The investment just makes sense now,” Schwartz said.

The satellite pharmacy would occupy about 750 square feet of currently vacant space, so construction should have minimal impact on patients and the patient experience, he added.

“The real benefit is behind the scenes.”

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