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Smilow Center — Yale / New Haven

Forums General Melanoma Community Smilow Center — Yale / New Haven

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      Hi folks,

      I thought I would reach out to anyone who is currently a patient at Smilow Center at Yale New Haven Hospital. I'm thinking of transferring my treatment to from Dana Farber to Smilow. I'm not dissatisfied with Dana Farber, but I'm finding that the distance is getting to be too much for me. I live in eastern Connecticut, Yale would be significantly closer for me. I thought that I could handle the travel for 1-2 days a month for scans and treatment, but I'm finding that when it comes to managing side effects, it's not really practical to have them managed out of Boston.

      So, I'm asking for anyone for their experience at Smilow:

      Are you happy with the treatment there?
      Do you feel like they have your total health and welfare in mind and not just your tumors?

      Do you feel like the various doctors communicate well to you and to each other?
      Do you spend a lot of time waiting when you go there?

      Do you get the results of your scans right away (same day) or do you have to wait until your next appointment?
      Is there anything else you wish you knew before you signed on for treatment there?

      Please feel free to post here or PM me with your responses.


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          Hello Rich – I might be able to help you. I have been a patient of Dr. Sznol, Smilow since 2008. I started at Hartford Hospital (very dissatisfied) and also did a second opinion at Sloane Keddering. I became stage IV in October 2011. I received brain surgery and Gamma Knife from Dr. Veronica Chiang (excellent). Smilow and Sloane led the very first ipi/nivo trial and I was fortunate to be enrolled in it. Eight months into the trial, I hit NED status. What do I think of Smilow? Great location, I 91 and I 95 interchange is completely redone, Dr. Sznol has been brilliant and also very caring, out of approximately 200 employees, only two gave me unsatisfactory service and the facility is only seven years old. One story: after one of my brain surgeries a doctor came in and sat by my bed. We chatted about restaurants and Newport RI (my occupation-chef) for ten minutes. Six months later we had a melanoma information meeting and the lead speaker was Dr. Lynch, Smilow's director, the same fellow that sat and chatted with me after my surgery. Any questions, please send me a message.


              Shoot I failed to answer a lot of your questions. Do they care about you? Absolutely, one of my sons died during my treatment and they took such good care of me then. Usually they run on time, except sometimes the scans get backed up or Dr. Sznol gets a new patient and has to spend extra time with them, which we understand. Excellent communication with you and also between themselves. Every Monday or Friday, the tumor board meets and have discussions about each patient. Bottom line – do I recommend Smilow? Absolutely!


                Scan results, usually the day after.


                  I highly recommend Smilow's melanoma group on all accounts, without reservation. The two primary oncologists are Mario Sznol (clinic Tu-Thur) and Harriet Kluger (Mo-Wed). Both are excellent, but with different personalities – Mario is very direct (my doc), and Harriet's patients love her affectionate manner (hugs vs. handshakes). Look them up. They have been among the pioneers of immunotherapy. Veronica Chiang (neurosurgeon – gamma knife and craniotomy) is also top flight, again very approachable. The staff is also outstanding – I walk down the treatment halls and am greeted in a very warm and caring way by muliple nurses and other personnel, including the people who just take vitals. Even the volunteer masseuse has become a friend. The facilities are new (10 years old), all single rooms, with a couch etc. It feels like a boutique outfit, although Yale New Haven Hospital is not small. Smilow is a new essentially self-contained (but attached) building, which makes many things easier. Waiting times are not at all bad – 10 minutes usually, unless there's an emergency. Lab results are available online within 20 minutes of draw, and if you tell them you're from a long way away (I am 90 minutes away), they will schedule scans done in the morning and review with Mario or Harriet in the afternoon (official radiology report will come next day, again available on their portal). 

                  BTW, at one point, Mario had me seek second opinions at Dana Farber (Hodi), MSK,  as well as Deaconess and in those places I had to wait very long times (I was considering IL-2, and he wanted me to get other opinions before deciding to do it with him).. I was also initially treated at HUPenn. All are, or feel like, much larger, impersonal, and cumbersome bureaucratic outfits – I much prefer Smilow to all of them.

                  HOWEVER, the number one thing you must do is be comfortable with your oncologist – so I'd not want to change centers until you'd had a second opinion with either Sznol or Kluger (or both?).

                  I encourage you to seriously consider their care.

                  Jonahan F


                  Thanks John and Jonathan, I have contacted Yale (twice). So far I have not heard back from them. 

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