New Kid on the Block: Farber Center for Radiation Oncology

The Farber Center for Radiation Oncology has a welcoming reception area, with a fireplace and an aquarium. Past the front desk are private dressing rooms, and the restrooms wouldn’t look out of place at a loft on nearby Warren Street. Patients wear robes and booties. Anyone could easily mistake it for a spa.

A private dressing room

And that’s the idea, says Tanya Tohill-Farber, the center’s director of marketing and new business development, who gave me a tour. “At most radiation oncology facilities, you’d have to wear a hospital gown. And you’d have to put your clothes in a plastic bag and carry it around with you. We wanted to make the experience as relaxing as possible.” After all, people who come in for radiation have enough on their minds; they don’t need additional stress. Even the examination tables are nice and cushy: “A spa company got into the business of making exam tables,” says Tohill-Farber, who is married to the center’s founder, Dr. Len Farber.

An examination room

When they decided to open a private radiation oncology facility—the first of its kind in New York City—they set their sights on Tribeca. “It’s underutilized, and a half million commuters pass through the area every day,” says Tohill-Farber. “Also, we felt more medical facilities would come.” (Indeed, Health First leased three floors upstairs.) They looked at several buildings, but the few with 15,000 square feet available on the ground floor couldn’t generally handle the equipment: The linear accelerator and its lead shielding have the weight of a 10-story building. The southwest corner of 100 Church—at the corner of W. Broadway and Barclay—was perfect. Because the space was once a Merrill Lynch trading facility, the infrastructure for communication and power was in place.

The CT simulator

Three years in the making, the center was designed for maximum comfort. For instance, rooms in radiation oncology centers are often cold for the sake of the machinery; the Farber Center put the equipment in adjacent rooms, so the treatment rooms could be kept warmer. They also tried to be as green as possible: Lights are on sensors, restrooms have cloth towels instead of paper ones, and robes are made from recycled bamboo.

As Tohill-Farber showed me the equipment, much of which certainly looks impressive, she explained that everything was state of the art. “When people say you should go to Europe for radiation, this is what you’d be getting.” Because the Farber Center is new? “Because we’re not required to use certain vendors, the way hospitals often are.”

As with all medicine, the human touch is paramount. The center will have a concierge pharmacist, who will bring medicine to you. And the doctors’ business cards include their cell-phone numbers.

The Farber Center is at 21 W. Broadway (at Barclay); 212-300-0663,

The entryway (with a curved ramp for wheelchairs)

The linear accelerator

A restroom

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