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The Closer to Free Ride family has been built over the past 10 years focused on one major message:  We’re here for each other.

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the leadership and staff of Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center deliver a familiar message to cancer patients and their families:  We’re still here for you. And we will do whatever it takes to help you through this crisis.

Below is information regarding the amazing work being done by our teams at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale New Haven Health.


Across our 16 care centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, amazing and life-saving work is being performed by the skilled teams at Smilow Cancer Hospital and YNHH. To help stop the spread of the virus while keeping cancer therapies moving forward for our patients, our staff has courageously taken several challenging and resource-heavy steps:

  • Cancer patients who were receiving in-patient care on floors 12, 14 and 15 at Smilow have been moved to YNHH’s St. Raphael’s campus so that the Smilow building can be used for Covid-19 ICU response. Patients get the same quality treatment provided by the same quality staff in a first-rate facility. The only change is the address. Our staff made this complicated and potentially risky move in 18 hours and had to think about everything from equipment to badge access and parking issues.
  • In addition to in-patient care, we have consolidated care centers for outpatient care. Our outpatient care from NP 1 has transitioned to our Care Center in Guilford and the majority of outpatient and infusion care from NP 4 and 8 has transitioned to North Haven. Our Old Saybrook Care Center has temporarily merged with Guilford; the Orange Care Center has temporarily merged with Derby; and the Fairfield Care Center has temporarily merged with Trumbull. Our Extended Care Clinic continues to be available for patients in need of urgent attention in its new temporary space on EP 1, and a Rapid Evaluation Clinic has launched for Smilow patients who develop COVID-type symptoms to enable testing and triage for care on NP 1.
  • Because of self-quarantine protocols and extremely limited visitation policies, the already lonely experience of fighting cancer is now even more challenging.  We are working tirelessly to keep our patients not only physically healthy, but emotionally healthy too by providing social work interventiontechnology assistance and extra personal attention and care.
  • Cancer patients may be at higher risk when facing a Covid-19 diagnosis, so we are doing whatever we can to reduce that risk, especially for transplant recipients and those with suppressed immune systems due to chemotherapy or other factors. Our telemedicine system has been expanded significantly to limit trips outside of the household whenever possible, including HIPAA-compliant video conferencing and records electronically accessed from home.
  • The new Smilow Rapid Evaluation Clinic is open and ready to quickly rule out Covid-19 in cancer patients so that they can continue on their original journey to survival. The stress of wondering whether a cough is the Coronavirus is something we are working to relieve as quickly as possible.
  • Systems have been put in place to make sure our staff stays healthy and safe, too. From a buddy system to ensure mental and physical health, to ensuring the highest levels of hygiene and protection at every turn, we know how demanding their jobs have become. And we know we need to work together to raise them up for success.

This is the crisis that our staff has been preparing for their entire lives. Every single person, from nurses to doctors to staff to maintenance and building trades, is committed to seeing our patients through.  And the love, support and donations they get from the Closer to Free Ride family go a long, long way in keeping their spirits and their motivation high.


We are going to continually share stories and messages from the front lines as well as deliver your messages of support and love to those working to help our patients.  Helping fight cancer in the age of Coronavirus is the ultimate Smilow Salute.  And we thank you for continuing to be a part of this remarkable community.