Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital Blends Expertise and Experience with Compassionate Attention to Patient Needs

By Carrie Frye
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Specialty: 

The Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital, the latest leading-edge addition to the hospital, combines specialists’ expertise and a team approach to infusion therapy to better serve patients throughout the region.

Partnering with the new Infusion Center, Highland Medical, P.C.’s hematology-oncology specialists take a multidisciplinary approach to prescribing infusion therapy regimens while tracking and monitoring patient progress. Expertise resides at the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital in the form of its oncology-trained staff, who work hand-in-hand with Highland Medical specialists. National care protocols and the latest infusion therapies are provided locally through the Infusion Center. Research studies with meaningful clinical implications are also ongoing at the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital led by Highland Medical physicians.

“The Infusion Center is a brand-new, state-of-the-art, spacious and modern facility funded with the help and generous donation of Adele Horton, the former Director of the Memorial Krutz Foundation,” says Mathew Lonberg, MD, Highland Medical, P.C. Hematology Oncology Associates of Rockland and Chief of Hematology and Oncology at Nyack Hospital. “The center is very convenient, right next to our practice and part of Nyack Hospital. It allows patients who need chemotherapy, transfusions and intravenous antibiotics the opportunity to receive these vital treatments close to home.”

Well-planned Accessibility

Infusion therapy treatments were available in the region previously; however, the new 24-semi-private treatment area Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital simplifies the process for both physicians and patients. The Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital opened last September with its own separate, covered entrance and valet parking for patients and easy access for physicians within the hospital for consultations.

“We collaborate very closely with surgeons on certain cases, and with the design of the new Infusion Center, surgeons can come down and see patients in the center while they are being treated,” Dr. Lonberg says. “Because the center is part of the hospital, physicians and patients alike have access to all of the other services offered at Nyack Hospital.”

Much larger than the previous infusion area, the contemporary Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital now houses an on-site pharmacy to speed access to infusion medications and hasten the course of treatment.

“The addition of enhanced infusion care and services into this center, with larger numbers of quality professional staff, certainly serves a niche in this community and keeps patients from having to travel into the city for these services,” says Robert March, MD, hematologist-oncologist at Highland Medical, P.C. Hematology Oncology Associates of Rockland.

Nationally Accepted Protocols

The Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital’s investment in equipment and in the facility makes national protocols for infusion therapies readily available. The Infusion Center’s ability to offer more than cancer treatments allows for greater opportunities for positive patient outcomes in the local area.

“At the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital, we are part of a community of physicians working with specialists to provide the best expertise and standard of care to patients in need of infusion treatment therapies. Patients don’t have to spend the time commuting to the city when they will receive exactly the same high-quality care here in Nyack.”
— Anna Komorowski, MD, Highland Medical, P.C.’s Hematology Oncology Associates of Rockland

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Robert March, MD, Anna Komorowski, MD, and Mathew Lonberg, MD, review images prior to a multidisciplinary tumor board meeting.

Chemotherapy cancer treatment remains the most common infusion offering and the one the majority of patients at the Infusion Center are receiving. According to the American Cancer Society, as new drugs and combinations of medications are developed, researchers continually study the benefits of smaller dosages given to patients over longer durations, as with infusion therapy.

“There has been a shift from offering chemotherapy in private offices to a hospital setting, and this Infusion Center represents a real advance in terms of the ability to provide multiple services, not only oncology and hematology services, but also to treat neurological diseases, gastrointestinal diseases and even endocrine disease with osteoporosis treatments,” Dr. March says.

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Robert March, MD, reviews an infusion treatment schedule with a patient at the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital.

“It cuts across a multidisciplinary view of medicine in terms of how many patients it potentially impacts,” Dr. March adds. “Oncology and hematology may be 80 to 90 percent of the patients, but the other infusion services are available to many other disciplines.”

For instance, a gastrointestinal infusion therapy of Remicade, approved by the FDA in 1998, treats and aids in the prevention of gastrointestinal symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease and colitis. The dosage is given by infusion typically over a two-hour period every eight weeks, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

The Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital’s scope of services includes:

  • Antibiotic treatment therapy
  • Blood transfusions
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hydration therapy
  • Iron therapy
  • Multiple sclerosis infusions
  • Rheumatoid arthritis therapy

“We can now perform infusion treatments as outpatient procedures that in the past required hospitalization,” Dr. Lonberg says. “Chemotherapy intravenous injections can be a long four- or six-hour infusion treatment, so some patients begin the process in the infusion center and then go home with their infusion bag and return it later. Blood transfusions and intravenous antibiotics, too, can easily be done here at the center.”

“We provide a wide variety of state-of-the-art cancer treatments, and the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital has optimized our ability to deliver the highest quality cancer care.”
—Mathew Lonberg, MD, Highland Medical, P.C.’s Hematology Oncology Associates of Rockland and Chief of Hematology and Oncology, Nyack Hospital

In addition to chemotherapy regimens, hormone therapy, immune therapy and targeted therapy are potential treatment plans the Highland Medical team may employ in the care of cancer patients. Targeted therapy singles out the cancer cells in a more direct way than normal chemotherapy, notes the American Cancer Society, making it an option for specific cancers but not without potential side effects.

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Drs. Anna Komorowski and Mathew Lonberg consult about a patient case.

Anna Komorowski, MD, hematologist-oncologist with Highland Medical, P.C. Hematology Oncology Associates of Rockland, is another of the group’s hematology-oncology specialists affiliated with the Infusion Center. In addition to treating breast, lung and colon cancer with chemotherapy, she treats patients for a variety of hematological conditions with therapies such as iron absorption infusion therapy.

“It increases our level of satisfaction when we can provide this full spectrum of care for our patients,” she says.

Oncology Expertise

Highland Medical’s Hematology Oncology team has not only the expertise to provide comprehensive cancer care, but also years of experience taking patients from diagnosis to treatment and remission.

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Hematology Oncology Associates of Rockland hematologists and medical oncologists specialize in caring for patients with blood disorders and cancer. (L–R) Mathew Lonberg, MD; Anna Komorowski, MD; Bradley Cohen, MD; Irina Rybalova, MD; and Robert March, MD

“We do general oncology and hematology and work together as a team,” says Dr. Lonberg. “We have an active program and attend tumor boards where all cases are discussed with other specialists, surgeons, gastroenterologists, radiation therapists and pulmonologists, and treatment plans are made after a consultation with all the specialists. In addition to the Infusion Center, we have advanced radiation therapy and pathology on-site at Nyack Hospital to provide the most complete care to cancer patients.”

Balancing his roles in private practice and at Nyack Hospital, Dr. Lonberg is well-published on hematology and oncology. His work in cancer research led to awards from the American Cancer Society and the Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellowship.

Dr. Komorowski earned her medical doctorate from the University of Warsaw in Poland and completed fellowships in hematology and oncology at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center. She was also involved in multiple studies at New York Medical College.

Dr. March, who is actively involved in biomedical research efforts, completed fellowships in hematology and oncology at New York Medical College at Westchester County Medical Center.

Team-centered Approach

At the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital, a multidisciplinary approach among the clinicians and practitioners keeps quality clinical care and patient outcomes as the focus.

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Staff members of the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital. Front row (L–R): Anne De Guzman, pharmacy technician; Cynthia Morris, RN; Elgarlie Adolphe, RN; Back row (L–R): Dorothy Michel, Coordinator; Michele Roman, Coordinator; Gloria Porcelli, RPH; Robin Hoyes, RN; Candy Mercer, RN, Nurse Manager; Diahann Ahle, RN; Deborah Rosario, RN; Julianne Stirt, RN; Alisha Hack, Coordinator

“The majority of the nurses as well as the pharmacists in the Infusion Center are oncology certified, which is a real benefit,” Dr. Lonberg says.

“We extend our ability to treat the patients when we work as a team with the nurses and pharmacists,” adds Dr. Komorowski. “They are hands-on and know the patients, because they see them many times and form a bond which contributes to the compassionate level of care they provide.”

This level of interaction and communication among the care providers builds a rapport and confidence that Dr. Komorowski appreciates and sees value in when it comes to patient care.

“Working as a team is crucial and makes the entire group responsible for patient care,” she says. “If a patient isn’t doing well for any reason, the nurse will call me immediately to make me aware of any abnormalities or complications.

“We both know our patients, and I can oversee the care. It is a major advantage to literally be around the corner when there is a patient need. It all goes hand in hand with the multidisciplinary approach.”

This team-centered approach allows each member to have a role, and collaboration remains paramount.

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Staff members of Hematology Oncology Associates of Rockland: Daniela Llanos, medical receptionist; Jaime Peterson, office supervisor; Jillian Vargas, medical receptionist; Erica Bello, RN; Dena Palanza, biller; Michele Petrulo, billing supervisor; Gloria Lacroix, biller; Lois Partridge, biller; Marion VanWoudenberg, research assistant

“We as physicians determine the treatment plans with patients and their families, and then we hand them off to the Infusion Center team to administer and deliver effective therapies,” Dr. March says. “They are knowledgeable and experienced. The nursing staff are cognizant of GI, neurologic and other complications potentially related to therapy and take extra safety precautions. We have assembled an efficient team that is extremely sensitive to patient needs.”

Primary Investigators

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Irina Rybalova, MD, consults with a patient. Highland Medical’s Hematology Oncology team has expertise in providing comprehensive cancer care and years of experience taking patients from diagnosis to treatments and remission.

Research is another important aspect of the ongoing effort to advance clinical outcomes at the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital. Highland Medical specialists have lead roles in a number of ongoing drug trials at the center and enroll qualified patients.

“We participate in clinical trials to select the most appropriate treatments for patients,” Dr. Lonberg says. “Having an Infusion Center of this caliber strengthens these trials and makes potential life-saving medications even more accessible to patients here.”

The Infusion Center is hosting clinical trials that just started in the last few weeks for new medications to treat breast, pancreatic and lung cancer, according to Dr. Lonberg.

“The lung and breast cancer trials are testing new oral medications, but all of them are potential new treatments,” he says. “It gives us the ability to have a much broader outlook in terms of treatment options.”

Dr. Komorowski is working on a breast cancer trial, while Dr. March is a primary investigator on a lung cancer trial and has published many articles on hematology and oncology.

“I recently discussed a new research trial with a pharmaceutical company for a novel drug for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in which a DNA fragment is inserted into the cancer cells,” Dr. March explains. “Being chosen for clinical trials truly speaks to the capabilities of the Infusion Center because of the vigorous examination required for documentation and accountability.”

Patient Experience

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Bradley Cohen, MD, reviews care plan with patient. Patient care remains at the heart of the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital and revolves around the patient experience.

Patient care remains at the heart of the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital and revolves around the patient experience. Aside from the Infusion Center’s ease of accessibility within the hospital, comfort and aesthetics have a part in the treatment process. The semi-private treatment areas surround lavish gardens, creating a serene, calming setting for patients. Other patient amenities at the Infusion Center include:

  • Beverages and snacks
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Reclining chairs
  • Televisions
  • Valet parking
  • Visitor accessibility and seating

“The Infusion Center is much more convenient for patients now,” Dr. Komorowski says. “They can drive right up to the door, which is an asset in the wintertime and much more comfortable. There’s a large reception area and separate rooms that provide privacy, so patients are not quite so exposed. The patients tell me how much they appreciate the Infusion Center, and that response helps with a positive outlook that can transfer to their treatments.”

Patients may spend 30 minutes to 12 hours for infusion treatments depending upon their specific needs and orders.

“The Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital creates a sociable atmosphere for patients coping with conditions that require infusion therapies. The personable nursing staff provides a warmth and caring that only enhance the patient’s experience.”
— Robert March, MD, Highland Medical, P.C.’s Hematology Oncology Associates of Rockland

“The vast majority — approximately 60 percent — of patients are chronic, stable patients, who merely return for follow-ups and cancer surveillance or are cured or in long-term remission,” Dr. March says. “The other 40 percent are patients in active treatment, who may sometimes be battling horrendous disease with drugs and systemic therapy being their only hope of survival in the short-term. They may be taking care of themselves and have great family support and despite that, their disease progresses. It is difficult to watch.”

For those battling disease, Dr. March appreciates the warmth patients find both in the Infusion Center’s atmosphere and team.

“Patients come in, and they feel that people here care about them, and that is what matters,” Dr. March says.

Referrals

The Infusion Center and Highland Medical team are in place to serve area physicians and their patients in need of infusion therapy treatments.

“The Infusion Center is open to all disciplines,” Dr. March says. “If a physician has osteoporosis patients but not the mechanism to administer zoledronic acid or denosumab, a prescription to the Infusion Center can be beneficial, and physicians can rest assured their patients will receive the highest quality care.”

Dr. March also sees benefits for patients with certain diseases who might otherwise seek treatment out of the area.

“For multiple sclerosis patients who don’t wish to travel into the city for immunotherapy treatments, as well as for Crohn’s disease and colitis patients who need infliximab infusions, treatments can be done here at the Infusion Center,” he says.

“We can also treat rheumatoid arthritis patients as a service to rheumatologists, neurologists or infectious disease specialists,” Dr. Lonberg adds. “The bottom line is that we provide expert, experienced infusion therapy treatments that keep patients close to home.”


For more information about the Infusion Center at Nyack Hospital, call 845-348-8484 or visit nyackhospital.org.