Norwalk and Danbury hospitals have been approved by cancer research organization NRG Oncology to be the clinical sites of a new clinical trial for breast cancer, gynecological cancer, and radiation oncology. The trials are large-scale involving as many as 800 patients at medical sites across the country and abroad. The local Danbury and Norwalk-based providers join Yale New Haven, UConn Health and Hartford Hospital as the only sites conducting these clinical cancer trials for a Connecticut coverage.

The local Connecticut story fits into a broader trend of clinical research moving into smaller cities, towns, and communities throughout America.

The Linda Coad Danbury Story: A Tale Usually at Big City Academic Health Centers

Linda Coad of Southbury at 78 has advanced stage ovarian cancer that cannot be surgically removed, reports the CT Insider. Ms. Coad was willing to try anything—even investigational therapies.  Linda became the first patient to enroll for a trial at Danbury Hospital that is testing the efficacy of a cancer-shrinking chemotherapy before surgery. The treatment is going well. In fact, the tumor is shrinking and if this progress continues, Ms. Coad would be eligible for a surgery to remove the tumor. Linda quoted the local news: “I was perfectly willing to enroll in the clinical trial because I wanted to try a new treatment that could help me now.” She continued, “The way I see it, if the tumor already shrunk, it might shrink more and then we’ll go from there.”

This kind of success story used to be one that would be associated with places such as New York City or Boston but not Danbury, CT. But times are changing with the clinical research as a care option movement.

NRG Oncology Opens Door for Clinical Trials

NRG Oncology approved Danbury and Norwalk hospitals to participate in clinical studies opening the portal up for a new world of options for the regions’ patients.

Danbury and Norwalk Ramp up

The surgical principal investigator (PI) for the NRG Oncology clinical trials at Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital is Linus Change, MD. The physician PIs are Robert Frank, MD medical oncologist/hematologist at Norwalk Hospital, director of clinical cancer research for Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, and a consultant in the gastrointestinal oncology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and Wenli Gao, MD medical oncologist/hematologist at Danbury Hospital.

Enter Nuvance: Consolidating Health Providers an ongoing Theme

Places such as Danbury and Norwalk—with community hospitals that have a smaller town feel—are “shedding that image” now that they are part of Nuvance, a $2 billion health network stretching from the Long Island Sound to the Hudson River, reports CT Insider. Now that Norwalk and Danbury are part of Nuvance and offering clinical research, new forms of advanced care options are available for local residents.

In fact, Dr. Linus Chang, a gynecological oncologist and the chairman of gynecology and obstetrics at Danbury and Norwalk hospitals reports that the new clinical trials they participate in brings “the best options available for patients” and their local patients have access and opportunity “for even better outcomes.”  With access to Phase III clinical trials, this means that many of these advanced investigational drugs have already been through Phase I and II rigorous testing. Dr Chang notes that lives are at stake.

Who is Nuvance?
Nuvance Health is a regional health system provider with 2,600 doctors serving 1.5 million patients across the mid-Hudson Valley and western Connecticut. The system includes six (6) hospitals including:

  • Northern Duchess Hospital, NY
  • Putnam Hospital Center, NY
  • Vassar Brothers Medical Center, NY
  • Danbury Hospital, CT
  • New Milford Hospital, CT
  • Norwalk Hospital, CT
  • Sharon Hospital, CT

Nuvance is the result of a merger between Health Quest and Western Connecticut Health. The system generates about $2 billion in revenue and has 12,000 employees.

Nuvance Concierge Patient Clinical Trial Service

In major medical centers in New York City, multiple layers can be present in signing up for a study while in places such as Danbury and Norwalk—in southwestern Connecticut—there are compelling options “without the red tape.” Dr. Margo Shoup, a network chair of the cancer service line for Nuvance notes, “We have the ability, if we see a patient that qualifies to open a trial in less than a week.”

Lead Research/Investigator

Dr. Linus Chang, a gynecological oncologist and the chairman of gynecology and obstetrics at Danbury and Norwalk hospitals

Robert Frank, MD medical oncologist/hematologist at Norwalk Hospital, director of clinical cancer research for Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, and a consultant in the gastrointestinal oncology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Wenli Gao, MD medical oncologist/hematologist at Danbury Hospital

Margo Shoup, Network Chair, Cancer Service Line Nuvance

Call to Action: Are you a resident in the Connecticut or Hudson Valley area with a cancer diagnosis in the family? Consider some of the clinical research options within one of the Nuvance hospitals. Interested in partnering with Nuvance and its hospitals? Sign up for our newsletter to keep track of updates.

Source: CT Insider

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