AS PART OF THEIR PLAN TO BRING HIGHLY ADVANCED ONCOLOGIC SERVICES TO UNTAPPED REGIONS OF NEW JERSEY, TWO OF THE STATE’S LEADING HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS JOIN FORCES ON A BRAND NEW, STATE-OF-THE-ART CANCER CENTER AT TOTOWA
BY AMANDA MCCOY • PHOTOS BY AMESSE PHOTOGRAPHY
In 2019, the state’s largest integrated health care network, Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH), announced a new partnership with St. Joseph’s Health to forward a shared goal: providing all New Jersey residents access to advanced, high-quality health care. This was not the first time the two entities had joined forces; two years prior, HMH and St. Joseph’s co-launched Visiting Health Services of New Jersey, a home health services agency and hospice services agency serving patients in Bergen, Passaic, and parts of Morris County, admitting 4,000 patients in 2018 alone. Through this most recent collaboration, the organizations embarked on a plan to expand access to leading-edge oncologic services in northern New Jersey, including a brand new, state-of-the-art cancer center in Totowa that would bring several subspecialities under one roof. Three years later, that vision became a reality, and The Cancer Center at Totowa is opening its doors this May.
“The new Cancer Center at Totowa is a great opportunity to bring subspecialized cancer care to the region, providing access to novel therapies, research, and cell therapies closer to home,” noted Andre Goy, MD, chairman and chief physician officer of the John Theurer Cancer Center ( JTCC) at Hackensack University Medical Center. “Our goal was to ensure that patients across all communities in our region receive the best care and access to innovation. Everyone wants and deserves access to the best treatment option after a cancer diagnosis. This is even more critical at a time where the standards of care keep evolving faster and faster, thanks to an unprecedented acceleration in the pace of innovation and technology in medicine, in particular in cancer.”
Stretching 70,000 square feet, The Cancer Center at Totowa is a modern subspecialty outpatient facility staffed by a multidisciplinary team of specialists, experts, and medical practitioners to support patients through every aspect of their cancer journey, from screening and diagnosis to treatment and survivorship. Services include genomic testing, immunotherapy, diagnostic services, infusion services, lab services, consultation, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy, plus nutrition and counseling. Medical research will also be a hallmark of the facility, and there is a suite of novel clinical trials in the pipeline.
To prepare the center for success, Dr. Goy and the leaders of the John Theurer Cancer Center set out to recruit world-class oncologic specialists across several subspecialities to lead the charge. One of those recruitments, Elias Obeid, MD, MPH, spent five years as the director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk program at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia before getting tapped to lead the breast cancer program at Totowa.
“What we are offering is highly specialized care,” noted Dr. Obeid, who specializes in both breast cancer and cancer genetics. “I’m able to bring my expertise to this center, so that anytime a patient presents with breast cancer, they are going to see a physician who specializes in breast cancer. We have a breast cancer evaluation center on site, and any follow-up is also performed here; it’s truly a one-stop shop.”
The center will also introduce cutting-edge genetic services to the area. Any patient with a predisposition for or family history of cancers with a high genetic contribution – breast, stomach, prostate, and others – can be screened by a specialist to test for cancer risk. “This is something new for the area,” added Dr. Obeid. “We are thrilled to bring advanced genetic services to the residents of Passaic County.”
The center’s radiology division is equipped with the latest in radiation therapies, including stereotactic body radiotherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, and HDR brachytherapy, all new services to St. Joseph’s Health.
“We’re bringing cutting-edge technology, research, and the entire intellectual capital that JTCC and HMH has to offer to St. Joseph’s community of patients,” noted Adnan Danish, MD, The Cancer Center at Totowa’s chief of the Division of Radiation and a 17-year HMH veteran. “These patients, traditionally with limited resources, have the right to access advanced cancer care. The partnership is going to benefit everyone in terms of research, clinical pathways, collaboration, and treatment. It’s a beautiful campus, and it gives us the opportunity to collaborate with a vast team of medical and surgical oncology colleagues. It’s very synergistic.”
“If you look at important cities in the U.S., these types of highly specialized centers aren’t everywhere,” added Dr. Obeid. “To provide this high-level degree of evaluation and treatment under one roof is truly a tremendous endeavor.”
In addition to The Cancer Center at Totowa, JTCC is also partnering with two additional St. Joseph’s locations, with oncology specialists rotating to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson and St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center. The ongoing affiliation is part of HMH’s larger vision to expand cancer care throughout the state by volume, clinical research, and innovation.
“We offer highly subspecialized care at JTCC,” noted Dr. Goy of the state’s largest and most comprehensive cancer program. “We’ve grown dramatically since I joined the hospital in 2005; we’ve recruited more than 30 world-class physicians, launched a best-in-class genomics platform, participated in thousands of clinical trials, and published more than 1,000 research papers in the last seven years alone. By partnering with St. Joseph’s, we knew that if we could extend our expertise, expand our scope, and advise our colleagues on how to take advantage of the remarkable innovation in medicine and oncology, it would be a great partnership. It’s an exciting time in medicine. The future is increasingly about diagnostics; from early diagnosis, early intervention, and prevention, to refining treatment options through precision medicine and managing preemptively the risk of recurrence by molecular monitoring of each patient. Together, we will help reduce the burden of cancer in our communities, which is part of the core mission of NCI-designated cancer programs.”
The Cancer Center at Totowa
225 Minnisink Road www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/en/locations/totowa-cancer-center