Advanced care delivered with compassion makes all the difference at the Leavey Cancer Center.
Written byLaura L. Watts
Photographed byJeffrey Fiterman
AboveSidney Stoll, DO
A cancer diagnosis can be shocking and frightening. That’s why the medical team at the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Cancer Center offers a helping hand and a friendly smile—coupled with medical expertise and leading technology—to patients who receive this news.
The center was established in 1993 to serve residents of the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas with comprehensive, compassionate, advanced health care in one convenient setting. It all started in the late 1940s when Frederick Gruneck, MD, a retired physician, envisioned a major medical center in the rapidly expanding Valley community. In 1955 his dream came true with Northridge Hospital—a single-story, 49-bed hospital with a one-room emergency department.
Since then Northridge has grown to a 394-bed, acute care, not-for-profit hospital with more than 800 physicians and approximately 2,000 employees. It has earned the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission and is ranked as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals in the United States by Healthgrades.
With the addition of the Leavey Cancer Center 30 years ago, Northridge Hospital established itself as a hub for world-class medicine, guiding patients with cancer and their families through every stage of the journey. The center’s doctors specialize in advanced options such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy, brachytherapy, the da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgery System and Trilogy stereotactic radiation therapy—treatments that lead to faster, more precise diagnoses, shorter hospital stays and quicker recoveries.
The Leavey Cancer Center’s extensive support includes a treatment plan tailored for each patient. “Our patients can expect to be knowledgeable of their diagnosis and care plan,” says Sidney Stoll, DO, medical director of the Leavey Cancer Center. “They can be confident that our team will be responsive should they need to reach out to us for any further clarification.”
Dr. Stoll says the doctors and staff take all diagnoses seriously and address them promptly. They offer explanations and answer questions so patients are comfortable moving forward with their medical plan.
While the Leavey Cancer Center provides innovative cancer treatment, it also promotes a calm and comforting atmosphere thanks to the kind and friendly staff. “The goal is to cure the individual and maximize their quality of life,” says Dr. Stoll, who has practiced at Northridge Hospital for five years.
“We incorporate the latest scientific research with state-of-the-art radiation techniques under one roof,” says Afshin Safa, MD, medical director of the Harold & Carole Pump Department of Radiation Oncology at the center and an associate professor of radiation oncology at UCLA. Yet, he says, the team doesn’t stop there. “We’re also committed to fostering a strong relationship with each patient based on trust, open communication and compassion. Positive encouragement is critical in this fight.”
The medical team focuses on making patients feel as comfortable as possible during visits and addressing their concerns promptly. “We reinforce a holistic approach by incorporating the patient’s physical, mental and spiritual needs into conversations,” says Dr. Stoll.
Offering comprehensive oncology services means supporting patients’ well-being and helping decrease their stress. “We teach patients about what is happening to their bodies and what to expect both emotionally and physically when diagnosed with cancer,” says Dr. Safa, who has practiced at Northridge Hospital for more than 20 years. He was awarded an Acts of Humankindness Award by Dignity Health Hospitals for his exemplary compassion that makes a difference to his patients.
Taking the level of encouragement even further, Leavey Cancer Center provides each patient with a cancer care navigator to coordinate supportive services such as transportation to appointments, home care and relaxation techniques such as free massages.
Friendly, approachable, kind and caring … just hearing these words takes the stress level down a notch. The medical professionals at the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Cancer Center exemplify these qualities daily in their interactions with patients and their families—welcome solace at a time when it’s needed most.