Center News Magazine: In Brooklyn, a New Facility Seeks to Improve Patients' Chemotherapy Experience

Friday, October 1, 2010
A private treatment room at the Brooklyn Infusion Center. A private treatment room at the Brooklyn Infusion Center.

Today many of our patients receive chemotherapy over extended periods of time, and we often see them rush to fit this time-consuming routine into their lives — in addition to dealing with the physical and emotional aspects of their disease and its treatment,” said Nurse Leader Jeanine Gordon. She oversees the staff of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Brooklyn Infusion Center, a new facility designed to meet the special needs of chemotherapy patients and their caregivers.

Scheduled to open in the fall, the Brooklyn site will offer leading-edge chemotherapy services to current Memorial Sloan Kettering patients who live in or near the borough — which amounts to more than 15 percent of those currently being treated in Manhattan. Many of these patients can now be spared the regular commute and receive their treatment in a more convenient setting located on 557 Atlantic Avenue, in the center of downtown Brooklyn.

The facility has the capacity to accommodate 30 patients along with their visitors each day, with 12 treatment rooms surrounding an indoor garden and adjoining library — “a beautifully decorated space where patients and their loved ones may spend time both during and between treatments,” Ms. Gordon explained. As each room is equipped with a touch-screen computer, patients may also choose to get some work or shopping done on the Internet, or make videophone calls with friends and family.

The Center’s nurses have been trained in delivering complementary therapies such as acupressure, Reiki massage, and relaxation techniques, allowing them to treat each patient in a comprehensive way. “For example, after starting a patient’s IV, a nurse might stay with the patient and provide additional treatment to reduce stress or pain,” Ms. Gordon said.

In addition to relieving space constraints at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Manhattan sites, the Brooklyn Infusion Center will serve as a prototype for exploring innovative cancer care models. “A reformed healthcare environment poses new challenges in terms of making treatment less wasteful while enhancing the quality of care and patient experience,” explained Wendy Perchick, Chief of Strategic Planning and Innovation at Memorial Hospital.

For example, on the day before a patient’s appointment, a nurse will call to ensure that the patient is fit for treatment by reviewing blood tests and symptoms. This “chemo-ready” approach is expected to reduce waiting times for patients and allow for more cost-effective drug preparation. Technologies have also been put in place to explore the practice of telemedicine between patients at the Brooklyn site and their Memorial Sloan Kettering physicians in Manhattan.

If proven successful, these approaches might demonstrate how patient care can be streamlined at no expense for patients and hospitals — “by just doing things a bit differently,” Ms. Perchick added.