Cancer Care center in Potsdam fully staffed

Posted 3/17/23

POTSDAM – The fully staffed medical team at St. Lawrence Health’s (SLH) Center for Cancer Care at Canton-Potsdam Hospital (CPH) is prepared to assist each of their patients on an individualized …

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Cancer Care center in Potsdam fully staffed


POTSDAM – The fully staffed medical team at St. Lawrence Health’s (SLH) Center for Cancer Care at Canton-Potsdam Hospital (CPH) is prepared to assist each of their patients on an individualized basis throughout their cancer treatment, and beyond.

Radiation Oncologist David Hauerstock, MD; Oncologist/Hematologist Vetta Higgs, MD; Nikita Goliber, NP; and Medical Director of Oncology Velmalia Matthews-Smith, MD; work alongside the Center’s pharmacists, nurses, technical staff, nurse navigator, and the comprehensive collection of specialists from throughout SLH.

“Our dedicated team at the Center for Cancer Care collaborate to ensure patients get the best possible care, which includes the latest drugs and cutting-edge medical technology that are tailored to meet each patient’s treatment needs,” noted CPH Director of Oncology Kay Zimmer. “It is big-city medicine, delivered with a small-town touch.”

The Center utilizes several types of diagnostic and screening tools to watch for and diagnose cancer. It offers imaging, pathology, chemotherapy, and advanced radiation therapies from CPH’s American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO) certified Radiation Oncology Department.

Chemotherapy drugs are usually administered intravenously, yet other options include pill, cream or lotion, or injection format.

“Chemotherapy can be extremely effective, and may result in difficult side effects. Our team works to mitigate those symptoms while our patients undergo their treatment so we can ensure they have the best possible outcome,” Medical Director of Oncology Dr. Matthews-Smith said.

If patients are treated by an oncology specialist outside St. Lawrence Health, they have the option to have their chemotherapy prescription sent to the Center for Cancer Care where they can receive their treatment. The Center has its own pharmacy on-site at Canton-Potsdam Hospital and pharmacists prepare each patient’s dosage on the day of treatment. The cancer pharmacy team includes the only board certified pharmacologist in St. Lawrence County.

The Center’s medical team may decide to include radiation therapy as part of their patients’ cancer treatment, which will be specialized specifically for each patient.

“We use the latest machinery to administer radiation therapy, and our Elekta Linear Accelerator targets cancerous cells with precision to spare healthy tissue. Our medical team ensures radiation therapy is delivered safely and effectively,” Dr. Matthews-Smith noted.

The Center’s Hematology team treats patients with blood cancer and other non-cancerous blood diseases, and provide iron infusions and phlebotomies on-site.

Among the cancer treatment options available through SLH is the option for patients to become involved in clinical trials.

“The Center for Cancer Care partners with St. Lawrence Health's Clinical and Rural Health Research Department, also located right here in Potsdam. The Clinical Research team works with the patient’s medical team to evaluate opportunities that may be available through a clinical trial,” Dr. Matthews-Smith said. “If we do not currently have a clinical trial appropriate for a patient, our oncologists can collaborate with and refer the patient to another center to ensure the individual has access to the most advanced treatment possible.”

Services to patients and their families/care givers of the Center for Cancer Care extend beyond the actual medical treatment plan. Personalized complimentary care is available through a caring and compassionate branch of each patient’s cancer team. The Nurse Navigator coordinates each patient’s care and assists to schedule tests and appointments. Patients further have the opportunity to receive nutritional support, financial planning assistance, speech therapy, massage therapy, and/or acupuncture.

To learn more about St. Lawrence Health’s Center for Cancer Care, visit https://stlawrencehealthsystem.org/services/cancer; and to learn about its Clinical and Rural Health Research services, visithttps://stlawrencehealthsystem.org/Services/Clinical-Research.