This month, the New York Proton Center celebrates its fourth anniversary! Since treating our first patient in August 2019, we have grown to become one of the most prolific proton centers in the world – treating the most complex case mix of patients and emerging as a pioneering force in oncology research.
NYPC’s origins are rooted in innovation. We were founded as the result of a partnership between three cancer care giants – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Health System and Mount Sinai Health System – who have been instrumental in propelling our growth and success. We are grateful to our partners for their continued support.
From the outset, NYPC set forth a series of commitments: establishing the gold standard for proton therapy, assembling a team of experts bound by patient well-being, contributing to the clinical evidence supporting proton therapy, and fostering a welcoming patient environment. Over the last four years, we have steadfastly adhered to those commitments.
Since opening, we have treated more than 4,000 patients – making NYPC the fastest center of its kind to scale to that level of volume. Of the 41 proton centers in the United States, we are the busiest.
Our clinical and leadership teams have presented their research and given educational lectures at conferences all over the globe and hold primary leadership roles in all major proton therapy and radiation oncology organizations. We have spearheaded 25 industry-leading, innovative trials as one of the most published clinical teams in the proton therapy sector. NYPC has also become a training partner for many new proton centers around the world, helping to advance critical, cutting-edge treatment nationally and internationally.
Reflecting on the journey, we had the privilege of interviewing some of NYPC’s long-time dedicated staff members who joined us before we treated our first patient.
Karen Kirby, RN, BSN was the first nurse at NYPC when we opened in 2019. She was initially hesitant about joining because it meant leaving her job of 17 years, but when she first visited the Center, she “fell in love with the place immediately” and felt compelled to join the NYPC team. Of NYPC’s development, she says: “we are now a well-oiled machine, and I am so very proud that I have the pleasure of working with some wonderfully caring nurses. We are a safety net for patients and their families. Patients can just concentrate on receiving their treatments and getting well.”
Mark McNally, Vice President of Operations, joined NYPC two years before opening day, and he quickly saw that the team had a clear vision to become an industry-leading proton therapy provider. Of NYPC’s early days, he says: “I was fortunate to be a part of putting the team together here at NYPC, and I got to see firsthand how this vision was passed along to each new hire. Opening day was the culmination of many years of work and perseverance. And whether you had been here from the beginning, joined along the way or had just been hired, you felt the joy of this accomplishment along with the excitement that the mission of providing this preeminent care had finally begun!”
Chief Radiation Therapist Andrew Okhuereigbe, RT felt much the same way: “The most unique aspect about NYPC’s approach to patient care is our constant dedication to providing compassionate care for patients and their families.” Andrew highlighted the warm and kind demeanor that patients encounter from the moment they enter the building. He emphasized the collective commitment of every staff member, regardless of their role, to prioritize patients as their number one focus. This patient-centered ethos permeates NYPC, fostering teamwork and communication that significantly enhance the overall treatment experience.
Andy Shim, Chief Medical Dosimetrist, shed light on the remarkable growth NYPC has undergone: “Managing 110-120 patients daily was quite challenging based on my prior experience,” Andy recounted. Yet, NYPC has seamlessly transitioned to handling this substantial case load, becoming the world’s busiest proton center while also tackling the most intricate of cases. Andy noted the remarkable transformation of NYPC’s staff members, who have become more proficient in managing both patient volume and complexity while consistently delivering exceptional care.
NYPC’s achievements over the past four years stand as a testament to our unwavering commitment, innovation, and collaborative spirit. As we look to the future, we remain dedicated to advancing cancer care and proton therapy through research and education initiatives, while always making patient care and comfort our number one priority. We’re incredibly grateful to our hard-working staff, our partners and our patients for the trust they have placed in us. We look forward to continuing to change the lives of people from New York and beyond.