Princeton Radiation Oncology joined the Central Jersey Division of Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) on Jan. 1, creating a seamless, comprehensive system of cancer care designed and equipped to provide central New Jersey patients with expert care for all types of cancers.
With the merger, the practice boasts 35 board certified physicians, eight nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and a team of patient navigators and pharmacists with services offered in 12 locations in Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Mercer counties.
“The merger provides central New Jersey patients with a carefully coordinated menu of services individualized to each patient’s specific needs, delivered by highly trained, caring physicians equipped with the most advanced technology — all right in their community,” said Dr. Robert Cardinale, managing partner of Princeton Radiation Oncology.
“Basically, we’re merging two independent practices with two different cancer specialties — radiation oncology and medical oncology — to enhance our delivery system for cancer care,’’ said Dr. Cardinale, a board-certified, Johns Hopkins-trained radiation oncologist. “Our patients will receive hands-on care by a very highly qualified group of doctors and practitioners.’’
Both practices boast physicians who have graduated and trained at some of the best medical schools and hospitals in the country and who have deep roots in central New Jersey.
“It’s not just a standard business merger,’’ said Dr. Edward Licitra, RCCA’s chairman of the board of directors. “It’s a merger of premier physicians who have decades of experience and deep connections in the community. That is what makes this move so powerful.’’
Princeton Radiation Oncology is one of the largest groups of radiation oncologists in the state and is known throughout the country for delivering outstanding, personalized care using only the most advanced technology. As Dr. Cardinale observed, the Princeton group even has one of the very few proton beam facilities in the nation that incorporates pencil-beam scanning, the most advanced type of radiation that targets tumors located near critical organs with unprecedented precision, attracting patients from all over the world.
The Central New Jersey division of RCCA has been in existence for seven years and is made up of highly trained oncologists who have been treating central New Jersey patients for more than 30 years, said Dr. Licitra, who trained at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and was named a “Top Doctor” in oncology and hematology by New Jersey Monthly magazine.
“We are two very like-minded practices,’’ Dr. Cardinale said. “We have been practicing side-by-side for 30 years to improve the quality of care. RCCA has outstanding, caring clinicians who are among the most well-respected physicians in the community and beyond. They also have an amazing nursing staff, and they always do the right thing for their patients.’’
“Princeton Radiation Oncology’s academic and medical credentials are impeccable,’’ Dr. Licitra added. “They have the most modern radiation technology and the best-trained doctors, who will be working in conjunction with the best medical oncology team.’’
Because many patients require a combination of treatment modalities, careful coordination of care is critical to achieving the best outcomes for patients, both doctors said. At the expanded RCCA, a team including patient navigators manage each patient’s schedule of care, reducing stress and making treatment more timely and effective.
“It’s not only coordinating care among doctors, it’s patient navigators who make sure patients are getting the tests and treatments they need in a timely fashion,’’ Dr. Licitra said. “It’s pharmacists administering chemotherapy under the safest conditions. It’s nursing triage systems in place to quickly address any adverse side effects. Our entire program is built around our ability to navigate patients through the often confusing continuum of cancer care.’’
The practice also helps individuals with the financial aspects of treatment, such as helping them to understand insurance coverage and finding funds to defray costs not covered by insurance.
“This really makes us unique,’’ he said. “Our staff will scour the universe to find money so patients don’t have to go out-of-pocket. It’s a very patient-centric approach.’’
That focus on the patient is at the heart of both practices and a cornerstone of the merged group, the doctors said.
“We are extremely personable physicians,’’ Dr. Cardinale said. “Our patients become our friends. We don’t just say that. That’s our reputation, and when combined with superior technology and skills it makes us one of the strongest practices in the nation. When you come to our office, you’re coming to a caring environment that truly values and knows each patient. That’s a huge difference from the sometimes impersonal care that many patients experience when their care is delivered at huge institutions.’’
As part of the merger, a new campus is slated to open by the end of the year in Monroe Township that will provide a full spectrum of oncology services — medical, radiation and diagnostic.
“This will put us on par with those that are perceived to be premier cancer leaders,’’ Dr. Licitra said.
“That this high-quality care really exists in our patients’ own backyard is really pretty amazing,’’ Dr. Cardinale added.