Catholic Health Services has opened its fourth CHS Cancer Institute on Long Island at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre.
The facility will provide a multi-faceted approach to caring for patients with cancer, acting as a “one-stop” facility for “multidisciplinary services,” CHS officials said. CHS has also initiated a partnership with the Roswell Park Care Network, which will offer all CHS patients access to clinical trials that assess new cancer therapies.
“We have a spectrum of behavioral and care services,” said Dr. Bhoomi Mehrotra, chief of oncology services at CHS. “All that is needed for a robust and personalized journey that a cancer patient needs.”
Memorial Sloan Kettering previously used the space in the Miracle Building with its cancer center, but moved last summer. The new facility is the first of CHS’s cancer institutes to open on the South Shore of Nassau County, serving those who live too far from its other locations in West Islip, Bethpage and East Hills. It opened in early January, and Mercy held a ribbon cutting for the facility on Jan. 31.
Andy Healey, a longtime Rockville Centre resident, recalls breaking ground for the Miracle Building about 23 years ago. Now, Healey finds himself in “an ironic position,” he said. He is a patient at Mercy’s new facility.
Healey was diagnosed with colorectal cancer almost two years ago. Since then, he has undergone six surgeries, and the cancer has spread to his liver. He visits the Mercy Cancer Institute regularly for check-ups and procedures.
“The three hardest words people have to hear is, ‘You have cancer,’” Healey said. “But my doctor said, ‘It’s the first day of the rest of your life,’ and I hadn’t thought of it that way . . . What sustains me is faith, family and friends. It’s that constant support. Included in that is the compassionate staff here.”
Sharon Johnson, another patient at the center, agreed. “This place was so needed,” Johnson said. “I felt so overwhelmed by my disease and just having a place to relax and to be comfortable makes me feel so much more encouraged.”
Both patients spoke about their experiences just before cutting the ceremonial, purple ribbon in the entryway that leads to the center’s 15-bay infusion center, five physician offices and 10 exam rooms. Mercy officials say there is more room in the building to expand the center in the future.
“For us, most important is bringing vital services to our communities, as opposed to asking our communities to travel for the services they so greatly need,” Mercy Medical Center President Peter Scaminaci said. “It’s an exciting time for Mercy and an example of what Mercy will be as we move out to the future. We hope to have many more ribbon cuttings such as this with many other services.”
“I feel good,” Healey said, “but the fight is not over.”