Hedvig Hricak’s Approach to Cancer Treatment

As Chairman and 95th President of the Department of Radiology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Hedvig Hricak is no stranger to helping cancer patients.  Patient Sal Rozzi met up with a doctor at the hospital after getting a “doom and gloom cancer diagnosis” somewhere else.  A doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center however, told he would be fine; that was 11 years ago. The hospital is at the forefront of creating new therapies and approaches to cancer and Hricak herself has made great strides in diagnostic imaging used to evaluate prostate cancer.

Some of Hricak’s work at the hospital is focused on customizing the imaging procedure to the individual patient.  In 2002 she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies society.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is now operating a new facility in Bergen County and cancer treatment that will be offered there will be just as cutting edge. According to the center’s Physician-In-Chief Dr. Jose Baselga:

“We are making great progress. The cure rate for cancer is going up, and is going up fast. The amount of chemotherapy that we are giving to our cancer patients is going down.”

Rozzi’s story and experience at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is perhaps thus not surprising after all.

NYC: Healthy Place to Grow Old

While New York City has also been well-known for being a financial world center, according to a recent Huffington Post article, it also has a great track record of “medical science and healthcare.”  Earlier this month, at the Merrill Lynch Offices, a Financial Wellness Symposium was held.  What was unique about it was that it brought two issues together – financial success and medical care.

With a focus on aging, the longevity economy was discussed as well as the financial health of New Yorkers within both individual and urban regions. These are important matters to address given that within the next decade, around 20 percent of New York City will be in the ‘elderly’ category.  Hence becoming increasingly ‘age-friendly’ is crucial. We must realize that our financial and personal health are “bound up in medical as well as financial institutional transformations.”

Another way of combining these two concepts is via the home sharing endeavor created by the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens. Since its inception more than 20 years ago, it has gained a reputation – nationwide – of becoming “an affordable housing opportunity that can provide financial relief as well as companionship. Both hosts and guests benefit from reduced housing costs and the possibility of companionship to offset the isolation and loneliness experienced by many living alone.”

Medicaid Bill for Health Clinics at School

NYS School Boards Association and Whitney Young Health Center representatives joined Assembly member Felix Ortiz for a press conference to request NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a Medicaid bill affecting school-based health clinics.

Fighting Back Against Cancer

Getting a cancer diagnosis is devastating. Dealing with the new life one has to face thereafter is equally traumatic.  Making appointments, going through chemotherapy, telling loved ones – there is so much to encounter, and it all comes at once.  When one is the main caretaker for a family member dealing with cancer, or having to face it themselves, it seems like a very dark non-ending tunnel.

But thankfully, a lot has changed over the years and there really is hope.  There is support.  There is better (and less traumatic) treatment.  There are also many organizations throughout the nation that have been there for thousands of people facing this same issue.

James Donovan, Goldman Sachs has unfortunately seen loved ones (a good friend and a brother) fight the battle against cancer.  Through the years that Donovan was there for these people, he found tremendous support via the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute. Established in 1947 by Sydney Faber, today this foundation has expanded to be able to support 450,000 people each year.  As well as getting backing from both the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dana-Faber still needs more.  As such, it seeks out donations from individuals and other related-foundations to supplement its research and clinic funds.

James Donovan found this Institute to be a great place to start for those who want to “do something” in the battle against cancer.  As a member of the Board of Trustees now, he advocates for backing this foundation as a first step.

Cancer does not have to be the end of the line.  There is a way forward.  There are many cancer survivors who have benefited greatly from the support of the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute and other such foundations over the years.

NYC Brooklyn Health Center

In this video from last month, Mayor de Blasio was at the opening of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council & Hotel Association of NYC Brooklyn Health Center where he delivered congratulatory remarks. At the clinic, hotel workers are able to benefit from health care at zero cost.

Campaign for New York Health

In this video, Secretary of Ithaca DSA Theresa Alt,, talks to Dr. Susan Soboroff about the Campaign for New York Health. If put into action, this would provide health care for all New Yorkers in a single payer system.

New Jersey’s Best Doctors

Being hit with the news that you (or a loved one) has cancer is undoubtedly overwhelming.  So when it comes to accessing the best medical treatment, what resources are available to facilitate this process? The New Jersey Monthly Magazine’s annual report on Top Doctors is a good place to start.  In 2016 the journal approached over 24,000 doctors in New Jersey with the question: “Which of your fellow practitioners do you consider as New Jersey’s best doctors?”

As such 1,069 Top Doctors (as selected by their colleagues) were included in the magazine.  One of these was Kenneth Nahum who has received the award various times in the past as well (including: 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012).  A specialist in hematology/oncology, Nahum is affiliated at both CentraState Medical Center and Jersey Shore University Medical Center.  He participates in cancer research trials and treats patients for a variety of cancers (breast, GI and lung in particular).

Another award winner in the same specialty (hematology/oncology) in 2016 was Myron E. Bednar, MD.  A second-time winner (the first being in 2011), he has been reputed to provide the “highest-quality cancer care in a compassionate manner.” Like Nahum, he too, participates in cancer research trials and seeks to offer patients new treatment options.

These are just two of many top hematology/oncology doctors caring for patients in the New Jersey area.  Having built up a reputation among trusted colleagues for their work and commitment to their patients, the New Jersey Monthly Magazine seems to be one place to start for those undergoing treatment.

NY: New Care Centers

Various new health centers have recently been created in New York and the surrounding areas, covering a variety of different wellness issues.

The first, is Staten Island’s ambulatory care center.  The groundbreaking ceremony for this was just led by Dr. Ram Raju, on his last day as CEO and President of NYC Health + Hospitals. The facility that is due to open next Fall will take care of around 40,000 visits each year by 2020.  The 18,000 building will have 24 exam rooms and will offer adult medicine, asthma, diabetes, OB-GYN, mammography, pediatrics, podiatry, Ultrasounds and X-rays.  According to Raju: “Providing more ambulatory care to meet the needs of community residents is critically important for the future of health care in New York.  The expanded access is expected to mean tens of thousands more patient visits each year, which in turn will reduce the need for costly emergency and inpatient care.”

Meanwhile over in Bronxville Lawrence Hospital, a new cancer center and surgical suite (costing $65 million) has just been renovated, revamping the existing cancer program.  The NY-Presbyterian health system (parent organization of the hospital) has invested in this.  Some of the enhancements made include:  a radiation oncology program, bringing it in line with other key local hospitals.  Indeed, as hospital president, Michael Fosina said: “You can’t be a standalone community hospital anymore and survive, you have to be part of a bigger health system.”

In addition, a new chain of free mental health clinics for US army veterans has opened nationwide.  One of these is New York.  The idea is to provide these vets with much needed treatment that they are spending way too long waiting to receive.  The centers were established due to the generosity of Steve A. Cohen.  He put his money into these centers following the friends of his son who returned from Afghanistan needing counseling but were unable to get help quickly.

Affordable Care Act

healthcareStatistics from New York’s Department of Health indicate that approximately 15 percent of the population of the state of New York is utilizing the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The health care exchange there – New York State of Health – recently detailed its level of use for 2016 indicating the coverage enrollment of 2.8 million people by the end of the admission period.  This marked an increase of around 700,000 from 2015.

New York residents are able to register for a health plan via the Affordable Care Act thanks to the state marketplace.  They can also sign up for various private health plans that are part of the marketplace or – for those eligible – Medicaid. There is also the Essential Plan on offer as well as Child Health Plus.

Other positive news about this for New Yorkers is that according to a recent news article by Margot Sanger-Katz, “A few recent studies suggest that people have become less likely to have medical debt or to postpone care because of cost. They are also more likely to have a regular doctor and to be getting preventive health services like vaccines and cancer screenings.”