Skip to Main Content

Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center opens at Westerly Hospital

October 28, 2019

Westerly Hospital celebrated the opening of its new Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center Monday, the second new unit to open at the hospital in as many months.

 “A resurgence is happening at Westerly Hospital,” said Patrick L. Green, president and chief executive officer. “We made promises to this community, and now it is our patients and their families who will reap the benefits.”

 The Smilow facility, which will see its first patient Friday, November 1, is located on the hospital’s second floor, not far from the new inpatient Geriatric Psychiatric unit that opened last month.

 This is the first Smilow facility located in Rhode Island and Westerly area residents are the first in any state outside of Connecticut to have local access to the nationally and internationally recognized comprehensive expertise of Smilow Cancer Hospital, which is ranked among the top cancer-fighting networks in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“We are thrilled to bring Smilow Cancer Care to the Westerly community,” said Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital. “Today also marks the 10th anniversary of the first patient treated at Smilow Cancer Hospital. To continue our growth is a testament to the dedication and commitment our team has to help cancer patients throughout the region.”

Robert D. Legare, MD, an oncologist in Westerly for 22 years, has joined the Yale Cancer Center faculty and will be the medical director in Westerly. Joining him is Rebecca Vanasse-Passas, MD, another local oncologist.

“When I think of the next 10 to 20 years and how oncology treatment is evolving, our affiliation with Smilow is tremendously exciting,” Dr. Legare said. “This relationship will help us provide the best care with significantly great depth and breadth for our patients.”

The Smilow signature of care extending into Rhode Island means that patients in eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island will have easier access to for cutting-edge clinical trials, immunotherapies, genetic counseling, second-opinion consultations, nutrition counseling, survivorship guidance and more.

As part of Yale Cancer Center, Smilow Cancer Hospital is also a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. This means care at Westerly Hospital now shares those NCI standards for “developing new and better approaches to preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.”

 The new unit features eight infusion rooms and seven exam rooms. A dietician, social worker and a financial counselor will be on site. Second opinion consultations with oncologists at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven can be arranged when needed, and radiation oncology, when necessary, is available at the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center location in Waterford, CT.

 Smilow oncologists specializing in specific types of cancers are always available, when needed, to offer advice on any patient’s personal needs, and treatment options can be reviewed at multidisciplinary disease team conferences at Smilow to ensure the best outcomes, according to Anne Chiang, MD, PhD, associate chief medical officer and chief network officer for Smilow Cancer Hospital.

 “Clinical trials are not just for situations where all else has failed,” Dr. Chiang stated. “More and more, we’re trying to improve patient therapies up front, to achieve optimal results.

 “There is a tremendous amount of energy, support, thinking, knowledge and expertise that goes into a comprehensive cancer service like ours,” Dr. Chiang continued. “That includes bringing everyone together and working collaboratively with each patient. It’s a big part of who we are, and it’s part of why we’re so excited to be in Westerly, sharing all we have to offer.”


Submitted by Jessica Collins on October 29, 2019