Berkshire Health Systems Unveils Plans for New Cancer Center

PITTSFIELD — As Berkshire County experiences up to 700 new cancer cases per year, Berkshire Health Systems President and CEO David Phelps announced recently that BHS and Berkshire Hematology/Oncology have formed a partnership to develop and open a new cancer center at Berkshire Medical Center, providing comprehensive cancer-care services for patients throughout the county and surrounding region.

The new BMC Cancer Center is a $30 million investment by Berkshire Health Systems to be located at the Hillcrest Campus of BMC, featuring state-of-the-art care for the diagnosis and treatment of all forms of cancer. The center will utilize the expertise of highly trained, board-certified medical, hematological, radiation, and surgical oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, and other physician specialists to provide comprehensive care with the most advanced technology in a picturesque, calm, and healing environment.

Berkshire Hematology/Oncology’s physicians, Drs. Michael DeLeo, Harvey Zimbler, and Paul Rosenthal, will be joining BMC’s Physician Practice organization, with new offices at the Hillcrest Campus of BMC, and will be joined in 2013 by Dr. Trevor Bayliss, a fellowship-trained hematologic oncologist and native of Williamstown. The new BMC Cancer Center will provide a wide range of patient care services under one roof, including hematology/oncology, radiation oncology, surgical-oncology consultation, and numerous support services designed to help make the cancer patient’s care easily accessible and seamless among multiple disciplines.

“This partnership between Berkshire Hematology/Oncology will continue to improve the level of care that patients receive in Berkshire County in both hematologic and oncologic problems,” said DeLeo.

“I view this center as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” added Zimbler. “This is the melding of two very strong partners. In this current health care world, having a strong financial partner in Berkshire Health Systems is allowing us to always be advocating for our patients and their health care, and we’re fortunate that BHS provides that for us.”

The primary goal of the newly redesigned and expanded cancer center and program is to improve the care of patients in need of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up support services, combining all of the cancer-care disciplines into one center. The center will feature easier patient access, greater privacy, multiple cancer-care disciplines in one location, a range of on-site support services, and the latest treatments and technologies to care for cancer patients and their families.

“I’m very excited about the new center for my patients,” said Rosenthal. “This is an opportunity to have care delivered in a brand-new facility. From the perspective of the physicians and the health system, this is an opportunity to work together to produce a new way of doing things for our patients.”

Bayliss agreed. “What excites me is thinking through the patient’s perspective, walking into this new center, sitting in the waiting room with these beautiful surroundings. Coming to an oncology visit carries with it a degree of anxiety for a lot of patients, and to be able to come into a center with a surrounding like that is relaxing,” he said. “This may seem small, but it makes a big difference to the patient. I chose to come to Berkshire Health Systems so that I could return to the area I grew up in and be able to serve the people of this beautiful county.”

With the addition of the physicians of Berkshire Hematology/Oncology to the BMC Physician Practice group, and the recruitment of Bayliss, patients will have enhanced coordination of care among cancer-care specialties and expanded physician access throughout the county.

Berkshire Health Systems has long provided comprehensive cancer-care services and has been cited nationally by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons with two Outstanding Achievement awards, but the numerous cancer-care disciplines were located in a number of different locations. For the cancer patient and his or her family, the new BMC Cancer Center will bring these services together, and will make the coordination of care with other medical and surgical specialties and physician practices in the community easier and more seamless.

“This is about having the potential for radiation oncology and medical oncology to be situated in the same location, and for patients to be able to access the subspecialties of oncology without having to travel, and without having to do anything other than centralize their care at one large, highly skilled, very specialized cancer center,” said Zimbler.