Passaic County residents will have more options for cancer care, with a new infusion center to open in Wayne this month and an outpatient treatment center in Totowa later this year as part of an affiliation between St. Joseph's Health and Hackensack Meridian Health.
The new infusion center, on the campus of St. Joseph's Wayne Medical Center, will have 14 stations for people who need to receive their medication intravenously. Slated to open once the surge in COVID omicron cases has abated, it is the first part of an effort to make the Wayne campus a center for treatment of women's cancers.
It will be followed later in the year by a new ambulatory cancer center in Totowa, built as part of the redevelopment of the former North Jersey Developmental Center site, which closed in 2014. The center, just yards from Route 80, is expected to offer diagnostic services, radiation treatment and infusion therapies, as well as outpatient consultations.
"Many patients and families are traveling long distances for cancer care," said Kevin Slavin, president and CEO of St. Joseph's Health. "This will provide care closer to people's homes." As cancer care advances, more of it is provided without hospital stays.
Additional improvements are planned at the Paterson campus of St. Joseph's University Medical Center, to bring now-dispersed cancer services under one roof, he said.
The number of oncology patients seen at St. Joseph's is expected to double or triple through these efforts, Slavin said.
The partnership provides "a good opportunity to extend the best research and clinical trials" to new populations in North Jersey, and aligns with the National Cancer Institute's goals of bringing advanced care and research to underserved populations, said Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian's president and CEO.
The affiliation will enable residents of the St. Joseph's service area in Passaic, Essex and Sussex counties to participate in over 700 clinical trials.
They will also have access to subspecialist physicians associated with Hackensack Meridian's John Theurer Cancer Center, which is part of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center. Hackensack also has a partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
The Hackensack physicians will rotate to St. Joseph's sites and work collaboratively with the oncologists already on staff in Paterson and Wayne, the executives said.
Cancer patients at St. Joseph's facilities often are diagnosed at later stages of cancer, when treatment may not be as successful, Slavin said. The partnership will enable St. Joseph's to expand its community outreach and cancer screening to help detect cancers at earlier, more treatable stages.
Passaic County has lower rates of cancer overall — and specifically for breast, lung, liver, brain and skin cancer — than the state average. But the incidence of prostate, esophageal and throat cancers is higher than average, according to state data.
Hackensack Meridian and St. Joseph's announced their affiliation in September 2019. This is the third major joint undertaking by the two partners. The first focused on home health care. The second, announced in November, has brought experts from the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, part of the Hackensack Meridian system, to St. Joseph's to offer services in rehabilitation for stroke and traumatic brain injuries and orthopedics.
Lindy Washburn is a senior health care reporter for NorthJersey.com. To keep up-to-date about how changes in health care affect you and your family, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Hospital partnership adds to Passaic County NJ cancer care options