NFMMC, Roswell Park announce new partnership

James Neiss/staff photographerCandace S. Johnson, PhD, president and CEO of Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center, discusses plans for a new partnership between Roswell and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center during a press conference at the hospital on Friday. 

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center have announced a collaborative effort aimed at improving the availability of cancer care in Niagara County. 

Officials said the first step of the new collaborative partnership is a comprehensive thoracic clinical program. With the establishment of a jointly operated Thoracic Center at Memorial, officials said Niagara County residents now have convenient access to a wide range of specialized services, from lung cancer screening and early detection through to state-of-the-art cancer treatment and survivorship support — the first time such specialized and comprehensive cancer services have been available in the Niagara region.

The new program focuses on the prevention, detection and outpatient treatment of lung cancer and other malignant conditions of the chest and chest wall and is directed by Dr. Sai Yendamuri, FACS, Chair and Attending Surgeon for Roswell Park’s Department of Thoracic Surgery.

“This new program will be an important addition to cancer care services in Niagara County,” says Niagara Falls Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. “The per capita incidence of lung and bronchial cancer in Niagara County is much higher than in the state or the nation as a whole, making it even more important to make this specialized care readily available to those who live and work here.” 

“This partnership is another way that Roswell Park is expanding its footprint right here in Western New York to be sure that no matter where you live, you are afforded easy access to truly comprehensive cancer care, including treatments that are not offered elsewhere in our region,” added Roswell Park President and CEO Candace S. Johnson, PhD.

“This natural partnership between two cutting-edge institutions continues to demonstrate NFMMC and Roswell Park’s dedication to people of Niagara County and the need for state-of-the-art care,” says Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. “Today’s life-altering announcement will undoubtedly impact the lives of so many as NFMMC and Roswell Park continue their mission to eradicate one of the leading causes of death in our community once and for all.”

Cases of lung cancer in Niagara County have risen about 36 percent over the last 40 years, and today the county’s rate of incidence is one of the highest across the state. And the New York State Health Department lists lung cancer as the leading cause of death for women in Niagara County and the second leading cause of death for men.

Seeking to address those concerning trends, Roswell Park and Memorial have partnered to build a program that covers the full range of integrated services from diagnosis and early detection through to treatment and survivorship for patients with lung and chest cancers or precancerous lesions.

“Given the environmental factors inherent in Niagara County – its large number of chemical plants and its history of former smokestack industries, not to mention the presence of Love Canal and six other EPA Superfund sites – the presence of cancer casts a pall over those who live and work here,” Ruffolo said. “Partnering with Roswell to launch lung cancer screening in conjunction with this new thoracic program undoubtedly will save lives.”

Dr. Yendamuri is seeing patients one day a week at Memorial’s Thoracic Center for services including post-surgery consultation, surgical oncology procedures, endoscopy and minimally invasive thoracic surgery performed onsite. The Thoracic Center will also be staffed by Christie Goodman-Williams, NP, RNFA, a nurse practitioner certified in surgery, and Lori Pearce, PA, an advanced practice provider who will operate a lung cancer screening clinic based on Roswell Park’s own lung cancer early detection program, which has been shown to diagnose 70 percent of cancers at an early stage.

Additionally, Niagara Falls Memorial staff will have access to Roswell Park grand rounds and other educational activities.

The collaboration represents Roswell Park’s third clinical program in Niagara County, joining its Niagara Center satellite infusion site in Wheatfield and its Roswell Park Niagara community cancer practice in Niagara Falls. And Memorial’s Ruffolo describes the introduction of a thoracic program at Memorial serves as yet another example of the medical center’s efforts to bring specialized medical care to Niagara through vibrant partnerships.