Starting in April, patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer will be able to get more of their treatments on-Island under a new agreement between Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Cancer Center.
Renovations are underway to turn the former emergency room area in the old section of the hospital into a six-bed oncology unit with offices for a new three-day-a-week nurse practitioner and physicians who will rotate in monthly from Boston, said Carol Bardwell, chief nurse executive for Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
“The goal is to maximize our chemotherapy program on our campus for Island patients and seasonal residents,” Ms. Bardwell said this week.
The agreement, more than a year in the making, effectively makes Martha’s Vineyard Hospital a satellite of Mass General’s Cancer Center, said Katie Marquedant, a spokeswoman for the center, which has made a similar arrangement with the hospital in Nantucket. In fact, both islands will be served by the same nurse practitioner, Jane Kelly, who has been working as an oncology infusion nurse at Nantucket Cottage Hospital before being hired by Mass General. In addition to helping administer chemotherapy, Ms. Kelly will be available to help patients coordinate treatment between the Island and the Boston hospital.
“Some treatment will still have to happen in Boston. For example, we’ll never be able to do radiation here,” Ms. Bardwell said. “But this is going to make such a difference in people’s lives not to have to go to Boston for everything. It just takes away all that travel time and lets people stay with their families.”
Vineyard residents now receiving cancer treatment will soon receive a letter notifying them that services will be available through the new unit, called Mass General Hemotology/Medical Oncology, starting April 5.
The program will be administered by Dr. Richard T. Penson, clinical director of medical gynecological oncology at Mass General, who will come to the Vineyard at least once a month, Ms. Marquedant said.
Other doctors who will rotate in to see cancer patients on-Island, according to Mass General, are Dr. Christopher G. Azzoli, Dr. Jeffrey A. Barnes, Dr. Donald P. Lawrence and Dr. Lidia Schapira.
“Patients living on the island of Martha’s Vineyard now have access to one of the finest cancer treatment programs in the United States,” Dr. David Ryan, chief of Hematology/Oncology and clinical director of the Mass General Cancer Center, said in a statement. “We are very pleased that our cancer providers are working together with MVH as a team to provide the highest quality care for their patients.”