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Employees October 23, 2009

Thousands of employees turn out to embrace new cancer hospital

Thousands of employees turn out to embrace new cancer hospital

"I’m so proud, I could cry,” Tonya Barham, Emergency Department technical associate in the Adult ED, told Richard D’Aquila, executive vice president and COO, as she entered Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. “I can’t wait to call my mother and sisters and tell them I saw the new hospital. It’s unbelievable.”

On October 20, thousands of employees like Barham turned out to view Smilow Cancer Hospital for the first time, at times standing in a line that snaked through the Atrium and up to the doors at the York Street entrance. The hospital organized two employee celebrations: one in the afternoon and another from 10:30 p.m.-midnight.

Once inside Smilow’s soaring two-story lobby, employees – many of whom applauded as they entered – read banners with information on Joel Smilow, the benefactor for whom the hospital is named, the 12 multidisciplinary disease teams, hospital involvement with the community, highlights of the three-year construction and the hospital’s environmentally friendly design and construction.

Employees received a colorful gift bag imprinted with a photo of the hospital that contained a blue bracelet that said: “Hope has arrived: Smilow Cancer Hospital,” a chocolate bar, badge holder and special Smilow publications. Many employees – holding up signs on which they had written what Smilow meant to them – had their photos taken by a professional photographer. They then headed for the cafeteria where they enjoyed refreshments – including a specially designed Smilow sheet cake.

“This is a special day for all of us,” said Marna P. Borgstrom, president and CEO, who personally greeted many of the thousands of employees who visited. “A lot of people worked very hard to get us to this point, and this hospital truly reflects our shared vision and values as an organization. We are now ready to treat cancer patients in a hospital totally designed with their needs in mind.”

As she waited in line to be photographed, Carrie Pyer, RN, Women’s Center, reflected on her early diagnosis of breast cancer in 2000.

“I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for Yale-New Haven,” said Pyer. “Smilow represents our future – in fact, all of our futures. It represents our future care and, hopefully, it will provide our future cure.

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