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Clinical Corner

The New Cancer Center Through Dr. Stevenson's Eyes

A Q & A with Mary Ann Stevenson, MD, PhD


Before we built the new Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center and Surgical Pavilion in Needham, we asked our patients what they would like in a cancer center.
So, we like to say the new center is “built from the patient up.”

The facility was designed for the ideal patient experience, from putting all cancer services on the same floor to designing treatment areas that overlook a healing garden and are surrounded by lots of natural sunlight.

Mary Ann Stevenson, MD, PhD, Chief of Radiation Oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, discusses why the building was designed differently from many other cancer treatment centers. 


Q. What was some of the feedback from patients and families when asked what they would like to see in the new building?

The inside of the new Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center in Needham.Patients felt really strongly about having an open floor plan with natural light, where they could feel close and connected to their doctors and nurses.

When undergoing cancer treatment, patients feel more comfortable surrounded by other people. So, a layout where patients wouldn’t feel like they were alone was at the top of our list.


Q. The importance of natural light seems to be a theme throughout both the cancer treatment area and the surgical pavilion. Is there evidence that proves the environment where a patient receives care has a direct effect on their outcome or emotional state?

There is data to show that psychosocial factors can affect outcomes in certain types of cancer. Our goal was to create the most calming, nurturing, and stress-free environment possible by emphasizing natural, rather than artificial, light and openness with windows and garden views, rather than walls.


Q. In most cancer treatment facilities, radiation treatment is provided underground, on the basement floor, due to the weight of the machine. Why was it important that radiation in the new cancer center be provided to patients on the first floor?

A radiation therapy machine at the new Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center in Needham.Both the LINAC (for radiation therapy) and infusion (for chemotherapy) are on the first (entry level) floor. This was very important to us and our architects worked hard to make this happen. There is something depressing about having to go into a dark basement to receive treatment. We were able to lift the LINAC up onto the first floor, the same floor where patients receive their chemotherapy. They will be surrounded by their team of caregivers and do not have to move between floors.


Q. What would you say are the biggest benefits of the new
Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center?

The new cancer center provides the same quality of cancer care to the community in Needham and surrounding towns that you would receive from an academic medical center, like BIDMC in Boston. It will be staffed by the same specialists that provide expert care at BIDMC. Rather than have a single "generalist" care for all patients, we will have teams of disease-specific specialists (breast, colorectal, lung, etc.) that will come to the new center and provide care for our patients based on their specific cancer type/diagnosis.

The new Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center and Surgical Pavilion opens in Needham on September 22, 2014Learn more about the new facility »

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

October 2014

Contact Information

Radiation Oncology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-2345

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