By Jasmine Willis
DANSVILLE — The local hospital has completed a project close to everyone’s heart that has been years in the making.
E. Michael Saunders Medical Imaging has opened its doors to quality health care for thousands of patients. On April 14 Noyes Memorial Hospital held a ribbon cutting ceremony to usher in the latest technology in radiology.
The state-of-the-art PET-CT Scan will provide cancer patients with the information they need closer to home. The recent advancement in technology provided with this center include: New Interventional Radiology Suite, Advanced Nuclear Medicine Camera, 1.5T MRI Scanner, and Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) Equipment. All of these services are provided by UR Medicine Imaging Radiologists.
Phil Saunders gave a few words of appreciation to the hospital for all they have done for the community over the years.
“The first thing we did here was the Saunders Surgical Center. We unfortunately had two members of our family pass away. The first two things we have done were when someone in our family has passed away. Patty’s sister who she beloved and her brother Michael who harassed her for over 50 years. I got one son and one daughter left so I hope I don’t have to come here anymore to do anything for them,” he said. “This is the last official thing Amy (Pollard) is going to do at the hospital. I would like to say a few words about Amy. I worked with Amy now for several years. She came here when this place was teetering. She has done a great job. I have enjoyed working with her on many occasions. I wish she had another occasion to do here other than this one. We as a community will definitely miss her. We look forward to the cancer center and this imaging center growing.”
Amy Pollard, Noyes Health CEO has been working close with the Phil Saunders Family on this project since the very beginning.
“We are here to celebrate and have a ribbon cutting for E. Michael Saunders Imaging at Noyes Hospital. This Imaging Center is in memory of E. Michael Saunders who is the son of Phil Saunders. We are very appreciative of their major contribution to make this center happen. We were blessed by a grant from New York State for a little over $1.5 million. The Saunders Foundation sublimated that majorly with a million-dollar donation. For a small community hospital these are the types of grants and donations that truly make us able to advance the care that we deliver to our community. It would be truly difficult for us to be able to make these advancements without those contributions,” she said.
“This project brings two high tech services to the patients in our region. Through our affiliation with the University of Rochester we continue to expand services to our community. This is a shining example of one. I think the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center is our absolute shining star of care we give to the community with our collaboration,” Pollard continued.
Steven Goldstein, URMC senior vice president said the planning for this event happened three years ago.
“It started with Dr. David Waldman. He was the one who designed the PET-CT Scan. It really is a unique machine. It is the most advanced. There are only two other places in the nine-county region that has one. There is one at Strong Memorial Hospital and Rochester Regional Medical Center. This has been the vision of the regional program. I have been in the community for 38 years and involved at UR for 25 years now. Our goal when all of this started was to figure out a way to create a health care system that combined all the communities. What an amazing evolution that has occurred between rural medicine and what is happening in urban cities. It has become much more important over time that we have in fact developed programs like you will see here. These programs have allowed us to keep patients local. If there is any opportunity for us to be able to sustain communities it involves three issues: education for children, jobs for the citizens, and health care. In order to sustain that they need to have a platform for success,” he said.
NYS Senator George M. Borrello came to congratulate the hospital on their success and offer the states support in the advanced healthcare.
“This was well worth the trip to come up here. I want to truly thank you for the dedication in ensuring that there is quality healthcare here in our rural communities. That is the biggest challenge we have in this state right now. Providing healthcare to people who are at risk, and often live so far away from places that can provide those services. You start talking about the advanced technology that you are going to have here. What does it mean when someone needs to have a PET Scan? That means you had a very serious diagnosis. You are really scared. Your family is scared. Now you add in the complication of traveling long distance. Thanks to the generosity of the Saunders Foundation, which is one out of many amazing donations they have made to this hospital. To have someone who has achieved so much success and has given back so much to their community is incredible. He has helped the lives of literally thousands of people. This is what the Saunders Family has done for this community. Today, we recognize the fact that they are going to continue to help people for many years to come. Today, we are taking a quantum leap forward into quality healthcare,” he said.
Interventional Radiologist Dr. Sanjiv Virdee received his training abroad in London before returning to Rochester.
“Today is a special day for me, but also for all of us here and our community. It is an opportunity for us to provide more comprehensive care to our patients close to home. In my current compacity I am director of Imaging at Noyes Memorial Hospital. Amongst other roles I developed the Interventional Radiology practice here. What does this mean? Typically, we use diagnostic imaging like CT and X-Ray reads and combine it with procedural skills to perform surgery in a minimally invasive way. We started this service in 2017 at Noyes. We were limited without an IR Suite, which is now available to us. Services we have provided here are largely supported by our other hospitals access. The vision we have for the IR Suite over the next few years has three major pillars; education in underserved areas, which means training staff that is less familiar with Interventional Radiology, training those interested in procedures with ABI access, and increase awareness about Interventional Radiology with our local and surrounding communities,” he said.
Dr. Jason Zittel, Ann and Carl Myers medical oncologist said he had the privilege of representing the whole team at the cancer center.
“These expanded services described to you by IR as well as the new PET Scanner will have a profound impact on our patients in this community. I’ll take a step back and ask you to imagine if you or a loved one were recently diagnosed with cancer, and you come in to meet with one of us to discuss this new finding. Part way into the meeting you are recommended to get this PET Scan. This type of imaging that would help us in terms of treatment or understanding the disease better. Once we tell you that we have to tell you to travel an extra hour or two to get it done. We had this talk with a lot of patients prior to this being open. This is going to help a lot of patients in a very profound way. PET Scans are often combined with CAT Scans and show the abnormal tissue. We use this with radiology to indicate where the tumor is located. We use a radioactive tracer. It helps us understand the function, size, and structure of the tumor. The thing I love most is the clear image, and it is a lot easier to show my patients a spot that lights up bright on the screen,” he said.
Dr. Jennifer Harvey, URMC imaging services department chair said she is very impressed with what Noyes Memorial Hospital has brought with the E. Michael Saunders Medical Imaging.
“The PET Scan is a really subspecialized version of medical scanning. Most general radiologist are not that familiar with its interpretation. The beauty of this system is that we do the scans here, but they are read by experts that read PET Scans every single day. They are very knowledgeable about different kinds of cancers. That is the beauty of the enterprise. That we are willing to help each other, and help our patients stay close to home. The patients can get their care local and see all of the experts in the field. Dr. Virdee will be able to do so much more now that we have opened this room. For instance, a patient with a blood clot can get better care with these scans. Can you imagine being a scared patient with a blood clot, and being placed in an ambulance to be taken an hour away? Now we can care for them right here. If these patients have a rare tumor we have the experts available that can help them here. We will be hiring another Interventional Radiologist to help Dr. Virdee and staff for that program. I believe that things are really going to blossom with this new program moving forward,” she said.
Noyes Health Radiologist Dr. David Waldman and Michael Donegan Noyes Physical Therapy senior operations director gave tours of the new E. Michael Saunders Medical Imaging Center.
Donegan explained how the PET Scan can be used on mostly cancer patients to find the tumor and show how it should be treated. Waldman explained the CR Machine being used for radiation treatments. It gives a much easier access to the patients effected areas and provides safer care for them and the doctors. There are up to three patients that can be treated at once with a long corridor that protects their privacy between the treatment and the bays.