MORRISTOWN, NJ — Atlantic Health System has announced the groundbreaking opening of a new state-of-the-art Infusion Center at Morristown Medical Center as the state’s top-ranked hospital undergoes the first phase of expansion at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center.

The new Infusion Center provides intravenous (IV) chemotherapy, immunotherapy and biotherapy while providing cancer patients with access to innovative life-saving treatments and promising clinical trials.

“This demonstrates a level of commitment to putting our patients first in quality of care,” said Dr. Missak Haigentz, MD, who is principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program, a national network that brings cancer clinical trials and cancer care delivery studies to people in their communities. “Having more spread out bays (of infusion chairs) available for patients to have privacy and outstanding clinical care while receiving cancer treatment during their most stressful time in their lives is paramount.”

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Over the last four years, Morristown Medical Center’s outpatient Infusion Center saw a 40-percent increase in patient volume that is credited to advancements in Atlantic Health System’s cancer program that includes:

  • Recruitment of world renowned physician researchers
  • Launch of the nation’s first Breakthrough Oncology Accelerator (BOA), a pioneering research and clinical collaboration with Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, AZ
  • Designation as first NJ-based National Cancer Institute Oncology Research Program (NCORP).

The newly renovated space adds 12 infusion chairs, bringing the total to 36 to help keep up with the demand and increased volume of patients. Meanwhile, the space features a combination of open and private infusion bays, as some patients enjoy interaction while others prefer a quiet meditative space, according to staff members.

“We are excited to offer our cancer patients the most advanced clinical options and therapies in a technologically advanced and modern setting,” said Dr. Eric Whitman, MD, medical director of Atlantic Health System Cancer Care. "All COVID-19 safety protocols can be followed, and the layout of the new space helps ensure everyone’s comfort and safety.”

Dr. Angela Alistar, Medical Director of GI Medical Oncology at Morristown Medical Center specializing in treatment of pancreatic cancer, echoed those sentiments and expressed her enthusiasm for the expansion of the Infusion Center.

“The Infusion Center gives me, as a pancreatic cancer researcher and clinical trialist, the space where I can treat my patients with the most advanced treatment available,” said Alistar. “It’s really fundamental. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to be as fast and nimble at getting the patients in and on treatment.”

Alistar added that the investment was a huge undertaking that could not have been possible without the support of the donors and the community. According to Alistar, it is essentially a "game changer" for the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center.

“I am optimistic that we’re going to find more definitive treatment in the near future,” he said. "There is so much effort that is going into the research of this very difficult to treat pancreatic cancer that I am really optimistic that something will come to change the fate of our patients.”

While the Infusion Center is open to patients, the fundraising to support the remainder of the $15.4 million renovation and expansion of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center continues; $6.3 million has been raised toward the Foundation’s philanthropic target of $6.5 million.

The Simon Family Foundation and Les and Eileen Quick each gave $1 million towards the three-phased renovation and expansion of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center.

“It’s a place that’s near and dear to our foundation’s heart,” said Peter Simon, son of the late Carol G. Simon and co-chairman of The Simon Family Foundation, which has been one of the most prominent donors of the hospital over the last two decades. “We’re so lucky to have Morristown Medical Center in our community. It’s a very fine hospital, and I hear so many wonderful outcomes from people who are grateful for good care."

Simon, who has also served as chairman of the Foundation for Morristown Medical Center’s board of trustees in the past and has made many other philanthropic commitments, also said he was grateful to live in a community that treats its residents "with dignity and with the best care possible.”

There is as much optimism for the future of cancer treatment as there is with the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center and with good reason. The Morristown Medical Center has outlined its ambitious renovation and expansion plans for the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center as it enters its third decade of patient care.

“This a very exciting time to be a cancer physician,” said Haigentz, who was recruited three-and-a-half years ago from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he was Professor of Clinical Medicine. “Our investment in innovation and on our understanding of cancer is finally yielding amazing treatments that are improving the longevity and quality of life of our patients as a result of the novel therapies that we have.”

With more than 3,000 new cancer patients each year and an estimated 11 percent of growth in expected need for cancer care in the region, a state-of-the-art environment and growing team of that now consists of seven established physicians will be crucial to providing hope for cancer patients beyond 2020.

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