Norwalk Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Launch Unique Cancer Care Collaboration

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Pioneering Care Delivery Model Connects Patients to Latest Cancer Care Advances

The Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital

This unique cancer care collaboration will provide the Fairfield County community access to a world-class team of physicians - right here at Norwalk Hospital. Michael Daglio, President of Norwalk Hospital

Norwalk Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) today announced MSK Physicians at Norwalk Hospital, a new cancer care collaboration that will integrate MSK medical and radiation oncologists and care practices with the existing cancer program at the C. Anthony and Jean Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital.

For the first time, Memorial Sloan Kettering doctors will be leading cancer services within another hospital’s cancer program outside of New York State. This is a unique model of collaboration through which Norwalk Hospital’s current team of oncologists, nurses, surgeons, and pathologists will be practicing alongside MSK doctors.

The innovative relationship between the esteemed cancer program at Norwalk Hospital and renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering will give residents of Fairfield County accelerated access to the newest cancer treatment options in the comfort of their local community setting. Patients treated at Norwalk Hospital will remain Norwalk Hospital patients; additionally they will have access to MSK for more complex cases and hundreds of clinical trials.

As part of this collaboration, three Memorial Sloan Kettering experts (bios below) have joined the Norwalk Hospital staff and will lead the medical oncology, radiation therapy, and medical physics cancer services at Norwalk Hospital. All six of Norwalk Hospital’s current medical and radiation oncologists have also joined MSK’s medical staff. These oncologists are well-known for their expertise in breast, lung, colorectal, prostate, and gynecologic cancer care. With support from the new relationship with Memorial Sloan Kettering, they will now expand and deepen opportunities to treat a greater range of cancers. They will participate in MSK disease management teams and work closely with their MSK colleagues to share perspectives and best practices, all with the goal of providing cancer care tailored to the unique needs of each patient.

“Even though the majority of cancer care in the United States is delivered in the community, cancer care advances can sometimes take years to reach patients there,” explained Memorial Sloan Kettering medical oncologist Linda T. Vahdat, MD, MBA, the new Chief of Medical Oncology and Clinical Director of Cancer Services at Norwalk Hospital. “MSK Physicians at Norwalk Hospital aims to bridge this gap and ensure the best outcomes for Norwalk Hospital’s patients by bringing leading medical and radiation oncology experts to Norwalk Hospital, implementing Memorial Sloan Kettering’s clinical practice in medical oncology and radiation therapy, and maintaining an environment of consistent cancer care.”

Dr. Vahdat further noted that a cancer diagnosis is often life changing for patients and their families, and many patients prefer to be treated close to home for convenience and familiarity. “Memorial Sloan Kettering and Norwalk Hospital’s relationship means that the 700 patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer each year at Norwalk Hospital can receive care at a location they already know and trust and still access the best drug- and radiation-based treatment options for their disease,” she said.

Dr. Vahdat will lead the comprehensive cancer program at Norwalk Hospital, including medical oncology. The radiation therapy practice will be led by Memorial Sloan Kettering radiation oncologist Daniel Shasha, MD. MSK’s Hsiang-Chi (Gary) Kuo, PhD, will oversee medical physics, essential for delivering precise radiation therapy. Drs. Vahdat and Shasha will provide full-time patient care on-site at Norwalk Hospital.

“We are very excited to enhance our cancer care program by having our exceptional oncologists formally collaborate with Memorial Sloan Kettering to provide the Fairfield County community access to a world-class team of physicians specializing in chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy — right here at Norwalk Hospital,” shared Michael Daglio, President of Norwalk Hospital.

“Part of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s mission is to improve cancer care everywhere, not just within our walls, and to bring high-quality, personalized treatments to patients in their own communities,” said Richard R. Barakat, MD, Director of MSK’s Regional Care Network. “We expect Memorial Sloan Kettering’s new relationship with Norwalk Hospital will help do exactly that for residents of Fairfield County.”

Individuals interested in making an appointment at the C. Anthony and Jean Whittingham Cancer Center should call 203-845-4811 or visit MSKatNorwalk.org.
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Biographical Information for Newly Appointed MSK/Norwalk Hospital Experts
Linda T. Vahdat, MD, MBA, Chief of Medical Oncology and Clinical Director of Cancer Services at Norwalk Hospital and a breast medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering
Linda Vahdat is a medical oncologist and the Clinical Director of Cancer Services at Norwalk Hospital. She is also a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. She sees patients at both Norwalk Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering. Dr. Vahdat has more than 20 years of experience in caring for people with breast cancer, with particular expertise in triple negative breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, and breast cancer that is at high risk of recurring. Her research aims to find new therapies, particularly for triple-negative breast cancer, and strategies that target the area immediately surrounding tumors, not just the tumors themselves, to prevent breast cancer from spreading. She received her medical degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed a residency there. She also completed a fellowship in hematology and oncology at MSK.

Daniel Shasha, MD, Chief of Radiation Oncology at Norwalk Hospital and a radiation oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering
Daniel Shasha is a radiation oncologist and Chief of Radiation Oncology at Norwalk Hospital. He has more than 21 years of experience in caring for people with genitourinary cancers, including prostate cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, and testicular cancer. He has particular expertise in using advanced minimally invasive techniques, such as brachytherapy, image-guided radiation therapy, and stereotactic body radiation therapy. He also uses radiation therapy to provide palliative care for people with advanced bone, spine, and brain tumors. He sees patients at both Norwalk Hospital and MSK. Dr. Shasha has performed close to 4,000 brachytherapy seed implants for prostate cancer treatment. These advanced techniques also help reduce the possibility of negative side effects that can impact a patient’s quality of life, such as urinary, bowel, or sexual function. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana and his medical degree from McGill University School of Medicine in Montreal. He completed his post-graduate residency training at MSK.

Hsiang-Chi (Gary) Kuo, PhD, Chief of Medical Physics at Norwalk Hospital and a physicist at Memorial Sloan Kettering
Hsiang-Chi Kuo is a medical physicist and Chief Physicist in the Radiation Oncology Department at Norwalk Hospital. He works closely with radiation oncologists at both institutions to provide technical support and to consult on planning and delivering radiation treatment at Norwalk Hospital. Dr. Kuo has a special interest in advanced radiation techniques to provide patients with the safest, most-precise treatments. These include intensity-modulated radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy, low- and high-dose radiation, and stereotactic body radiation therapy. He received his doctorate degree from the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan in 2010. He is board certified in therapeutic medical physics.

  •     Hear more from Dr. Linda Vahdat in this short video
  •     Hear more from Dr. Daniel Shasha in this short video.

About Norwalk Hospital’s C. Anthony and Jean Whittingham Cancer Center
The Whittingham Cancer Center offers high-quality, tailored cancer care in a community setting. Personalized care, leading-edge cancer therapies and a warm, nurturing environment are hallmarks of this 30-year-old program. Each year, over 700 newly diagnosed patients begin treatment. In 2016, the new Whittingham Cancer Center opened – a serene 35,000-square-foot facility featuring an outdoor healing garden, contemporary consultation rooms, private infusion suites, light-filled infusion bays with views of Long Island Sound, a dedicated CT simulator and state-of-the-art linear accelerators. The new Center includes spacious areas for the Hospital’s extensive clinical trials and collaborative research program with additional space for the multidisciplinary support team of nurse and patient navigators, registered dieticians, psychosocial support and cancer genetics. Norwalk Hospital is an affiliate of Western Connecticut Health Network, Connecticut’s premier, patient-centered health care organization which includes Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Western Connecticut Medical Group and Western Connecticut Home Care.

About Memorial Sloan Kettering
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center, home to more than 16,000 physicians, scientists, nurses, and staff united by a relentless dedication to conquering cancer. As an independent institution, MSK combines 130 years of research and clinical leadership with the freedom to provide highly individualized, exceptional care to each patient. MSK is consistently ranked the number-one hospital for cancer care in the Northeast and among the top two cancer hospitals nationwide. And MSK’s always-evolving educational programs continue to train new leaders in the field, here and around the world. http://www.mskcc.org.

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Andrea Rynn

Caitlin Hool
Danbury Hospital
since: 02/2009
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