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WATERTOWN — For the first time in the north country, Mohs Surgery will be offered at Samaritan Medical Center.

Mohs Surgery is a precise surgical technique that offers the highest skin cancer cure rate available. During Mohs Surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains, allowing patients to go home with the knowledge the skin cancer has been cleared.

“We feel really fortunate to be selected this year for the equipment,” said Dr. Nathanial Miletta, Chief of Mohs Surgery at Samaritan. “There are a lot of great initiatives going on at Samaritan and they’re all equally deserving of support, so for dermatology and specifically Mohs Surgery to be selected, it’s a big deal for us.”

Samaritan Auxiliary’s “One Night, One Diamond” event will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 28 at The Commons on Fort Drum, the proceeds of which will purchase the Mohs equipment. The cost of the tickets, $150 per couple, includes dinner, dancing and the opportunity to win a half-carat diamond provided by Cook’s Jewelers, as well as a Lake Placid getaway package. Live music will be provided by the band Atlas.

Presenting sponsors for “One Night, One Diamond” are Apogee Physicians, Pepsi of Watertown and Purcell Construction. The Diamond Sponsors are FX Caprara Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Alexandria Bay, Hancock Estabrook, KeyBank, Krafft Cleaning Service, The Martin Group, North Country Orthopedic Group, Northern Radiology Associates, Renzi Foodservice, Running Boards Marketing, and Slack Chemical Company. The event receives additional support from numerous other sponsors at the Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire levels.

The Samaritan Auxiliary, established in 1896, is comprised of 232 members and plays a vital role today in improving the quality of care in the Samaritan system through volunteer activities and financial support. Since the event began raising funds for equipment, Samaritan Auxiliary’s “One Night, One Diamond” proceeds have purchased over $600,000 in equipment for Samaritan Medical Center.

The proceeds from last year’s event went to purchase a tissue tracker for tissue implants at Samaritan Medical Center and an Oncologic Navigation System to help manage the continuum of care for oncology patients at the Cancer Center.

According to Dr. Miletta, who started at Samaritan in October having previously served eight years in the Army, Mohs Surgery has a 99 percent cure rate and can be performed under a local anesthesia.

With Mohs Surgery, the dermatologic surgeon cuts around the skin cancer and then examines the tissue under the microscope to ensure it is completely removed. If there’s any cancer remaining, they go back and take a little bit more until it’s gone. Once the skin cancer is removed, the surgeon can the begin a complex reconstruction with confidence knowing the cancer has been eliminated

Dr. Miletta said the other nice part is they can go back and do other repairs when they’re done so they can design flaps and grafts to give the patient the best aesthetic outcome knowing the cancer is gone.

“Board-certified dermatologists are a little bit unique in that we learn both the clinical aspect of medicine and also spend three years learning what things look like under the microscope,” he said. “That’s what uniquely prepares us to perform Mohs Surgery and why we tend to excel at that.”

Previously, before the technology was available at Samaritan, patients were traveling to Syracuse, Rochester or all the way to Burlington, Vt. for this skin cancer service. According to Dr. Miletta, the two most common skin cancers they treat are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma may also be treated with the Mohs technique.

The other benefit about having the treatment at Samaritan is the facility’s support network. Samaritan also offers the Walker Cancer Center, plastic surgery, and head and neck oncology. Dr. Miletta said that a multidisciplinary approach, when needed, ensures the best medical and aesthetic outcome for patients.

“For being in a smaller community hospital, we can really offer the benefits of a larger center,” Dr. Miletta said. “This equipment is state-of-the-art and reflects Samaritan’s commitment to our community.”

Aside from the “One Night, One Diamond” event, the Auxiliary manages the gift shops at Samaritan Medical Center, Samaritan Keep Home and Samaritan Summit Village, as well as the Starbucks Coffee Shop at the Medical Center. The gift and coffee shops, along with annual uniform sales and membership dues, allow the Auxiliary to provide funding for support of programs, services and the pledge commitment to the Capital Campaign.

Irene Carman, a pharmacist by trade, has been a volunteer with the Auxiliary since 2005. As the chairperson for the upcoming “One Night, One Diamond” event, she said the estimated cost for the Mohs equipment comes to approximately $50,000.

“We are fortunate to have a very giving community,” she said. “Our generous sponsors, donors and event attendees make it possible for the Auxiliary to purchase this equipment for Samaritan Medical Center.”

For more information about the “One Night, One Diamond” event, please contact event chairperson Irene Carman at onod2@shsny.com or visit the event website for tickets and information at www.samaritanhealth.com/onod.

RSVPs, with the names of attendees and dates of birth for entrance onto Fort Drum, must be received by March 17, 2020.

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