By Shawn Regan
---- — Cancer patients no longer have to leave Haverhill to meet with expert doctors and plan treatments.
Haverhill’s Merrimack Valley Hospital has opened a satellite cancer center that is affiliated with Holy Family Hospital’s cancer center in Methuen. Both hospitals are owned by Steward Health Care.
“When it comes to health and wellness, we want anyone needing cancer care to focus on their treatment and recovery, not travel,” said Lester Schindel, president of both Merrimack Valley Hospital and Holy Family Hospital. “And we want them to have access to world-class care right in their own community.
“Our hospitals have the unique opportunity to work together and this effort allows us to bring award-winning services and advanced treatment options closer to our patients and their families,” he said.
In the past, cancer patients living in Haverhill had to travel to Boston, or at least Methuen or Lawrence, to meet with cancer doctors and plan a course of treatment.
Mayor James Fiorentini said giving Haverhill residents access to advanced medical services locally is the main reason he has supported keeping a hospital in the city.
“The city has sacrificed a lot to keep a hospital here, and this is why,” Fiorentini said, “so our residents can get quality medical care without leaving the city.”
The mayor noted his father John Fiorentini, a Haverhill teacher for 37 years, died of cancer at age 83 in 2007.
“My dad spent his last days at Merrimack Valley Hospital, but he had to go outside the city to get his cancer treatments,” the mayor said.
Schindel said board-certified oncologists are now available for new patient consultations and followup visits in Suite 405 at Merrimack Valley Hospital.
Appointments are available on Tuesdays and will increase as needed, Schindel said. Chemotherapy and radiation oncology services will be provided at Holy Family Hospital, he said.
Holy Family Hospital’s Cancer Center has received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer for six consecutive years, according to a press release from Steward Health Care.
“Adding an office at Merrimack Valley Hospital enhances our ability to provide a comprehensive, custom treatment plan that is well coordinated,” said Dr. Ankur Mehta. “Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience. Holy Family’s Cancer Care team understands that each patient and their family have a lot to consider in a short period of time. That’s why we work hard to provide access to diagnostic and treatment services, including tests, close to home. And it’s why the team members always make themselves available to patients.”
Cancer doctors at both hospitals include Mehta, Laura Caprario and Han-Ting Lin.
Haverhill’s new cancer center uses state-of-the-art technology and treatment options allow for fewer side effects and shorter treatment times while sparing normal tissue and organs around the tumor, a press release from the hospital said.
Haverhill’s cancer center
Where: Merrimack Valley Hospital, 140 Lincoln Ave.
What: Consultations with local doctors to plan treatments given at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen.
How: Call 978-687-0156, ext. 2021, for information, including appointments and referrals.