After years of planning and development, The Phillips Family Cancer Center, in partnership with Stony Brook Medicine and the Southampton Hospital Association, opened its doors to the public during a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.
“This was a journey that began with inspiration and was completed through dedication — the dedication of so many wonderful people,” said Robert Chaloner, chief administrative officer at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.
The 13,800-square-foot radiation and oncology center, located on County Road 39 in Southampton, is divided into two floors. The first floor houses the radiation department and a full-time oncology social worker in the office annex of Fighting Chance, a Sag Harbor-based organization that provides counseling to patients and caregivers. The second floor is home to the oncology department, an on-site pharmacy, dual-purpose rooms and a conference/community meeting room where support programs such as yoga and group therapy sessions will be held.
Flooded with natural light, flowers and uplifting portraits, the center was lauded by each speaker for its architectural integrity.
“Medical oncology patients can choose between private or shared treatment spaces amongst glass murals of East End beach scenes with lots of skylights letting in ample sunlight and expansive windows offering wide views, including views of grounds and gardens,” said Kenneth Wright, chairman of the Southampton Hospital Association.
The head architect, Blaze Makoid, took inspiration from the potato farming history of the property, Mr. Wright said. Healthcare facilities architect Victor Famulari created the interior layout and finishes, designed to enhance healing. Edwina von Gal of Perfect Earth Project and Christopher LaGuardia of LaGuardia Design Group supervised the outdoor gardens and landscapes, visible from the center’s chemotherapy treatment rooms.
The opening of the center reduces the hurdle for East End residents who may otherwise travel miles for treatment. Previously, cancer patients had limited options to receive care, whether due to insurance restraints, distance, etc.
“Cancer treatment typically involves daily treatments for over a period of weeks or even months,” Mr. Wright said. “Now, East End residents can get world-class cancer treatment — be it chemotherapy or radiation — right here in this building close to home.”
The speakers gave a special thanks to the benefactors of the center, The Phillips Family.
“Their commitment to bringing cancer services to this community extends back over 30 years,” Mr. Chaloner said.
Barbara Phillips spoke on behalf of the Phillips family, telling the story of her mother who used to work on the board of Saint Clare’s Hospital in Manhattan. There, Ms. Phillips said, was an AIDS wing with roughly 100 beds and staff devoted to helping and encouraging people to have hope to live.
“People used to say to my mother, ‘Why do you go there? These people are done,’ ” Ms. Phillips said. “And my mother said, ‘No, they’re not done because they have hope. They have medicine. They have science on their side.’ And in fact, today we know, they’re not done. And we’re not done.”
Radiation therapy will begin being offered in May, when the center welcomes its first scheduled patient, and medical oncology will begin in August. The new center features state-of-the-art technology, including the only linear accelerator on the East end, according to the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital website. The accelerator “provides more precise targeting of cancer cells during radiation therapy, sparing healthy surrounding tissue.” All chemotherapy treatments are formulated in the on-site pharmacy, according to the site, and an integrated computer system is being used so that patients can be seen at Stony Brook and be treated at the Phillips Family Cancer Center, or vice versa.
Patients will have access to Stony Brook’s clinical trials, too, according to Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, who serves as dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University and as senior vice president of Health Sciences.
“It’s not only the beauty on the outside of the building that counts,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., who attended the ribbon cutting along with other officials. “It’s what’s going to be going on inside of the building. And nothing strikes fear in a person or a family than to hear the word ‘cancer.’ ”
The only way to combat fear, he said, is with hope.
“And what your family has done by providing our community with this center is to provide us all — each family, each person, with hope if they ever have to hear the fearful word,” he said.
Top photo caption: Barbara Phillips spoke on behalf of the Phillips family. (Credit: Mahreen Khan)