Q&A with Meredith Price

Top official at St. Joseph’s Health discusses the facility’s new cancer center and its collaboration with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

By Mary Beth Roach

Q: Can you describe the plans and the purpose of this new cancer center?

A: We actually took the initiative to develop a cancer center to help provide fully integrated care to our patients. We previously did not offer our own cancer services, so patients were able to be treated for cancer care through other care providers within the region. So that we knew that all of our patients had the full spectrum of care available to them, we had decided to open a cancer center here at Saint Joseph’s.

Q: Is this a temporary location that you’re in now?

A: From a location standpoint, it is currently right on campus at the hospital. We do have plans to expand and still be on campus at the hospital. We don’t have the date determined yet for that.

Q: What prompted the tie-in with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center?

A: Roswell is a nationally recognized leader in cancer care. They are the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive care center in this region. The collaboration does allow us to offer the latest treatment options and care plans for our patients, and it really gives them access now to research and other clinical trials without having to travel to Buffalo. They can receive those services right here in Syracuse.

Q: Is the center open to patients with different kinds of cancers or certain cancers?

A: Medical oncology is provided here. There is potential if they need surgical intervention that they would have to be referred to surgical specialists, some of which we have here, some we may not.

Q: What are some of the services more specifically that you provide?

A: Services include breast cancer, colorectal, lung cancer, GI cancers, different types of blood cancers.

Q: You’re not doing surgery, but you’re treating them with radiation, chemotherapy?

A: Mainly chemotherapy. For some, we do provide surgical services as well. We have an outstanding breast surgeon here. We have a group that does colorectal surgery that practices here.

Q: How do you see this new center as different from other cancer programs already in the Syracuse area?

A: I think that the main difference is the tie-in now that we have to Roswell Park. I had mentioned that they are the only NCI-designated center in Upstate New York, so that definitely carries with it a significant differentiation for us. The partnership with them does allow us to be innovative in terms of cancer treatment options. Where there may be additional opinions needed or there is a specialty that is needed for those patients, we do have access to those services now in Buffalo through Roswell. It really does provide access to a larger spectrum of experience and expertise.

Q: How many patients do you anticipate being able to serve?

A: Since we launched in December, we’ve already treated more than 100 patients and are continuing to see more and more referrals each day. We do have capacity now to be able to treat more than 375 patients annually. Dr. [Haider Ali] Khadim is the main physician and he does have a mid-level provider physician assistant that works with him. Once we hit that 375-patient count level, we’ll start looking at adding another provider and that would still be able to be handled within the current space.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

A: I’ve been impressed by the good offering that we’ve had to date in terms of people seeking this care and coming to us so soon after we launched the opening. We’re just thrilled to see the interest and that we’re able to fill this need for the community.