“I love the fact that today, with all the advances in diagnostics, drugs, and personalized cancer treatments, working with cancer patients is an exciting and optimistic experience.” – Priscilla
Fifteen years ago, after working together at NYU hospitals, Dr. Goldenberg invited Priscilla to help him start his new private hematology oncology practice. Priscilla had worked in management, as the Coordinator of the Bone Marrow Transplant Team at Mary Hitchcock Medical Center, as the Associate Director of Oncology Nursing at Bellevue, and as the Director of Nursing for the Saint Vincent’s Comprehensive Care Center. Dr. Goldenberg was impressed by her training and with the vast amount of experience that she brought to her daily nursing practice. Accepting the position at MHOA gave Priscilla the opportunity to balance her managerial talents with more direct patient care, affording patients her ability to administer very complex state-of-the-art treatment regimes for aggressive and advanced cancers in a more intimate atmosphere.
“At the beginning, it was just Dr. Goldenberg and I with only one treatment room. The office was tiny. It has been very exciting to watch the practice grow. And boy, how MHOA has changed!” Over the years, she has seen both the physical office space expand to two floors, and the physician and nursing staff grow to include a much larger team dedicated to providing patients advanced medical treatments and access to new clinical trials.
The thing that hasn’t changed since the beginning is the way that Priscilla practices her nursing philosophy. She mirrors Dr. Goldenberg’s patient focused approach, which supports the patients and their decisions, focusing on both treating the disease while listening to individual concerns.
One of the concerns that Priscilla identified early in her career was how to help her patients find a balance between getting well while also maintaining as much of their work and life routine as possible. It continues to be one of Priscilla’s goals to help patients continue the practical aspects of their lives while they receive treatments, as she and her staff help facilitate the smoothest and most convenient office visits. She credits the efficient patient coordination at the MHOA front desk, and the phlebotomy lab on the premises, where the turnaround time for lab work is just minutes, with decreasing the waiting time for patients compared with most larger institutions. This team effort gives most of Priscilla’s patients the ability to work and to maintain their social schedules during treatment.
Another goal to which Pricilla strives, as she runs the nursing aspect of the practice, is to continue the great patient relationships that Dr. Goldenberg and Dr. Haglof have with their patients in the treatment area. “The treatment area is busy, but smaller than in many bigger institutions, which affords a cozier and more comfortable atmosphere. There is a private section for anyone who wants privacy, and also an open room where I see a diverse population of patients who guide and support each other. It’s a very positive environment, where they often discuss the nutritional and complimentary therapies that have helped them to have more energy and to feel better while receiving treatments. And it’s always fun to see the social dynamics and comradery, and to watch the new friendships develop. I think this is one of the reasons that many of the patients consider the MHOA office a second home.”
After fifteen years at MHOA, it has become a second home to Priscilla as well. When Priscilla reflects on the very beginning of MHOA, and the hard work that has gone into making MHOA the special place that it is today, she knows that it has all been worth it. “Cancer is becoming much more of a chronic disease than when I became an oncology nurse.” And with her characteristic sense of humor, she continues, “Many times now you can take your treatment, continue working and roll on with your life…”