The Clifton Springs center is among expanded services in the Rochester Regional Health network
Some of the counties in this region have some of the highest rates of cancer in all of New York state.
Now, the Rochester Regional Health system is expanding its services in rural areas to try and reach more patients and provide early screenings.
Melanie Haers was 30 years old with a 1-month-old baby at home when she had a seizure in the middle of the night and was rushed to the hospital.
"They did a scan and the doctor walked in and said, 'You have a tumor on the left side of your brain,'" she recalled.
No signs, no symptoms — an otherwise healthy young woman had brain cancer.
"My heart is like ... who is going to raise my daughter?" Haers said.
As rare as her situation sounds, it's not. Ontario County, where she lives, has one of the highest rates of brain cancer in all of New York state. Maps compiled by the state Health Department show more liver, skin and ovarian cancer in Ontario County, too.
While genetics and behavior play big roles in whether a person will get a particular type of cancer, environmental factors also come into play. Cancer rates tend to be higher in more rural communities with aging populations and poverty.
That's one of the reasons why Rochester Regional Health is expanding services at Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic.
On Wednesday, it opened a new Women's Health Center, a new physical therapy wing and new operating rooms. The doctors at Clifton Springs say the more services they can offer in this rural community, the more screenings they can do to try and detect and treat cancer sooner.
"If you have accessibility to do it, if it's reachable ... you don't have to drive two to three hours to do it … that'll make it more accessible and if we find cancer, we find it in an earlier stage, a treatable and curable stage rather than just waiting and waiting for that cancer to grow," said Dr. Ahmad Awada, who will head the Women's Health Center.
Because Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic is part of the bigger Rochester Regional network, patients don't miss out on anything by staying local.
"It does create comfort that the whole system is connected, and we want to keep people as close to home as we can for the care that they need— but if they need something that's more complex, we have the facilities available in our community to be able to get them to," said Dr. Eric Bieber, president of Rochester Regional Health.