SIUH’S DIVISION OF PEDIATRIC HEMATOLOGY AND ONCOLOGY, OFFERING ADVANCED TREATMENT AND RESEARCH, WILL EXPAND WITH THE OPENING OF THE CHILDREN’S CANCER CENTER IN 2022

BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS BY AMESSE PHOTOGRAPHY

The goal of Staten Island University Hospital’s brand new, state of the art Children’s Cancer Center, slated to open in 2022, is to treat more than just disease. Devised to offer pediatric hematology and oncology services geared solely toward children and separated from adult treatment spaces, the burgeoning Center is focused on offering compassionate, comprehensive care to both the patients and families it will serve. And according to the doctors and staff leading its conception, the Center will be dedicated to providing the highest quality care with the best possible outcomes.

“In this role my ultimate goal is to create a personal and individualized plan for each patient and family who walks through those doors,” noted Dr. Eleny Romanos Sirakis, who currently serves as director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at SIUH. “As we move into this next year of growth I want to continue to advance and expand upon our pediatric hematology and oncology programs, truly improving the quality of life for our families and ensuring that our patients here on Staten Island have access to the most up to date treatments and research. When your child is diagnosed with cancer it is so important to have access to optimal healthcare. For Staten Island residents, we are making sure that optimal care is close to home.”

Located on the grounds of SIUH’s Seaview site, a division of the hospital’s existing Cancer Institute, the new outpatient center will feature access to the borough’s best pediatric specialists, all in one place, in a coordinated and multi-disciplinary fashion.

“We have developed an outstanding team of physicians, nurse practitioners, pediatric oncology certified nurses, and other child life specialists,” said Dr. Romanos Sirakis.

The staff is focused on delivering personalized medical care and healing.

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“Cure is provided through medication and healing is obtained by compassion, love, and tender care,” noted the hospital.

“We take the time to get to know our children and their families,” said Dr. Romanos Sirakis. “And we partner with them to devise the best possible evaluation and treatment program.”

Dr. Romanos Sirakis, who earned her medical degree and completed both her pediatric residency and fellowship at New York University, joined the staff at SIUH in 2012. She was drawn to the subspecialty of pediatric hematology/oncology after caring for a young cancer patient early in her residency.

“Children with cancer are a remarkable set of patients,” she explained. “The diagnosis of cancer in a child has a major impact on the entire family. However, despite the disease process and the medication regimen used to combat the cancer, these children demonstrate great resilience. They are all truly an inspiration to us every day. We are dedicated to their care and well-being. We are invested in their health and happiness, and we are commonly found laughing with patients even during treatments. Our patients smile when they enter our Center and see members of our team, and it is clear that we truly enjoy working with these families. We are committed to maximizing their childhood and minimizing the negative impact of treatment, while utilizing the best known treatment plans. Fortunately, a lot of children with cancer do quite well and in life’s large lens their diagnosis and treatment is a blip. We do our best here to work with each family and each patient to develop a plan of care that works with their unique needs during that time.”

The Children’s Cancer Center will also feature a Child Comfort Program, which aims to stem the tide of treatment side effects.

“We are committed to making every effort to reduce chemotherapy side effects and meet the needs of each child that turns to us,” the hospital said in a statement. “We have new ideas and strategies that can make a significant difference.”

Promoting intense pre and post hydration around chemotherapy and working with visiting nurse services to provide overnight home therapy, the hospital is focused on allowing the child to sleep in the comfort of his or her own bedroom whenever possible. Project S.M.I.L.E., which was developed and implemented by Dr Romanos Sirakis at SIUH, is also a part of the Child Comfort Program, aimed at minimizing pain for all children undergoing minor procedures, including vaccinations and blood draws.

“Minimizing your child’s pain is a priority for us,” the hospital said. “We are reaching for certification as a fear free, pain free facility, placing special emphasis on natural ways of pain reduction during blood draw, needle sticks, or procedures. By use of imagination, distraction (bubble blowing, View Masters, storytelling) or other techniques, our team members try to put a smile on the children’s faces during or after painful procedures.”

Providng care for hematological conditions like bleeding and clotting disorders, platelet disorders, white blood cell disorders, hemangiomas, and anemias, including beta thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at SIUH currently focuses on oncology matters like bone tumors, hepatoblastomas, renal tumors, leukemia, lymphoma, and soft tissue sarcomas.

As its director, Dr. Romanos Sirakis is committed to furthering education at SIUH and is actively involved in advancing research at the hospital as the chair of the Pediatric Research and Scholarship committee. Her research interests include sickle cell disease and pediatric pain management, which will greatly expand when the Children’s Cancer Center opens.

“Innovation in the care of patients with cancer and blood disorders changes by the day and sometimes by the minute,” concluded the doctor. “Here at SIUH we utilize research and data from national and international studies to make sure our patients are receiving the most advanced care. In the future we envision giving our patients even more access to these research studies and trials, healing their disease while advancing efforts to cure these cancers.”

Staten Island University Hospital
Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
256C Mason Avenue / 718.226.6435
siuh.northwell.edu/pediatrics/childrens cancer center