Landmark opens new cancer center

Landmark opens new cancer center

Landmark Medical Center’s new Cancer Center is now in much larger quarters on the second floor of Rehab Hospital of Rhode Island, 116 Eddie Dowling Highway, at Park Square in North Smithfield. Leading the efforts there are, from left, Phyllis Kelliher, director of Oncology Services and an oncology nurse practitioner; Dr. Ahmed Nadeem, chief of oncology and a American Cancer Society Lane W. Adams Award winner; and Dr. Ambreen Ijaz, medical oncologist hematologist.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Thanks to a $3 million investment by parent company Prime Healthcare Services, Landmark Medical Center now has a new center dedicated to the needs of cancer patients on the second floor of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island.

The renovated 15,000-square-foot space holds 11 treatment and infusion bays for patients undergoing chemotherapy, along with seven exam rooms, conference areas, community rooms and support facilities.

The launch marks a major expansion for a 12-year-old program previously operated in a 2,000 square foot wing of the hospital’s Cass Avenue facility in Woonsocket.

Center Director Phyllis Kelliher, who is also a nurse practitioner, noted that the local need for treatment exceeded the amenities previously available at the Woonsocket hospital, which had only five treatment bays.

“You can’t put off someone who needs chemotherapy,” Kelliher said. “They need it right now.”

“There were a lot of days where we would have to pull recliners into the exam room. It was very difficult to do a schedule. I would have to pitch in to get people out. It was not ideal.”

In Woonsocket, doctors also did office visits in the treatment bay, and chemotherapy patients were left out in the open, visible to patients in other programs and hospital staff.

Now, the director said, every patient has their own separate treatment bay with their own personal TV.

“It is a safe haven strictly for patients and family members of those having treatment,” said Kelliher.

Opened last month, the center at RHRI already sees some 45 patients a week in a private outpatient setting. The floor was once home to acute care hospital rooms, but a renovation by JACA archetects and Ken Jones construction has transformed the area, complete with comfortable furniture and soothing artwork, according to hospital officials.

“It’s a beautiful area, and it’s very private. Everything was done with the patient in mind. It really is like a haven.”

The center at 116 Eddie Dowling Highway employs two physicians and two full-time oncology nurses as wells as one per diem nurse. Led by Kelliher, along with Dr. Ahmed Nadeem the chief of oncology and Dr. Ambreen Ijaz, the center also offers the latest in biological therapies.

Kelliher noted that while some patients believe they’d have better access to the latest treatments at larger clinics in Boston, the local cancer center offers the exact same services.

“We’re right in the game,” she said. “People always think the academies are way ahead. If we hear about it today we’re giving it out tomorrow. They don’t realize they can get whatever they would get in Providence or Boston right here in Woonsocket.”

In fact, Kelliher said, local treatment is a great way to avoid long waits at research centers.

“This is a small community hospital. They get one-on-one personal care,” Kellher said. “I meet with every patient who walks through this door. I think that’s something you only get close to home in a community hospital. We do have that advantage.”

Landmark President and CEO Richard Charest noted, “This new facility represents best-in-class care close to home as well as a $3 million investment in the Northern Rhode Island community by Prime Healthcare Services.”

Kelliher also pointed out how difficult long drive times can be for those fighting the disease.

“Cancer patients are sometimes very ill. They have lots of signs and symptoms, and treatment toxicities. Adding an hour or two hours driving from their treatment is just miserable for them.”

At Landmark, she said, every patient has an oncologist, a nurse practitioner and an oncology certified nurse.

“They have a good team,” said Kelliher.

This is one of seven new examination rooms at the Landmark Cancer Center in North Smithfield. There are also 11 new treatment chairs for chemotherapy patients. (Breeze photo by Tom Ward)