Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center and the Smilow Family Breast Health Center Now Offering Fitness Instruction for Adult Cancer Patients through a Donation from Bankwell

Norwalk Hospital
Seated in front (left to right): Linda Versea, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP, site director, cancer services at Norwalk Hospital; Dr. Richard Zelkowitz, MD, chief of hematology/oncology at Norwalk Hospital and medical director of The Smilow Breast Health Center; Lynne Briody of Norwalk Hospital Foundation; and Mary Heery, APRN, breast health specialist at The Smilow Family Breast Health Center at Norwalk Hospital  Back row (left to right): Mary Ann Genuario, health & fitness director of the Riverbrook Regional YMCA; Karen Cooke, breast cancer survivor; Carol Bauer, Norwalk Hospital chaplain; George Bauer, Norwalk Hospital board member and Bankwell board member; Heidi DeWyngaert, president of Bankwell; Victor Liss, Norwalk Hospital board member and Bankwell board member; Diane Knetzger, senior vice president and director of marketing at Bankwell.

Adult cancer patients from the Whittingham Cancer Center and the Smilow Family Breast Health Center at Norwalk Hospital can improve their fitness level at Norwalk Hospital through a partnership with the Riverbrook Regional YMCA in Wilton. Funded by Bankwell, this free 12 week program will be held at Norwalk Hospital’s fitness center, offering group instruction by specially trained and certified cancer exercise specialists.  

“We know that cancer can be frightening and that exercise gives patients a way to help themselves,” states Dr. Richard Zelkowitz, medical director of the Smilow Breast Health Center and chief of hematology/oncology at Norwalk Hospital.  He also says, “We are so pleased to now have a program for Norwalk Hospital patients.”

“A cancer diagnosis can be the start of an exercise program that will reduce treatment side effects and improve long term survival,” states Mary Heery, APRN, AOCNS, breast health specialist at The Smilow Family Breast Health Center at Norwalk Hospital.  “This program inspires patients to regain their self-confidence and quality of life by improving their cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and muscle mass.  Physical activity has the additional benefit of reducing a recurrence of cancer, battling treatment related fatigue and boosting one’s mood.”  Linda Versea, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP, site director, Cancer Services adds, “We are very grateful for Bankwell’s generosity in funding this program, allowing participants the convenience of working out here at their hospital under the supervision of expert instructors.”


Patients must be treated at Norwalk Hospital and have a medical release from their physician in order to participate. In addition to this program being offered at Norwalk Hospital, similar programs are also offered through our other YMCA partners in Westport, Darien, New Canaan and at the Wilton facility.

 According to the American Cancer Society’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors, engaging in an exercise routine, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet can decrease the risk of cancer recurrence. 

About Norwalk Hospital
Norwalk Hospital is a nationally-recognized, 328-bed, community teaching hospital affiliated with Yale School of Medicine. A hospital of the Western Connecticut Health Network, the Hospital has more than 500 physicians on its medical staff, many of whom trained at the nation’s leading medical schools and hospitals, and 1,800 health professionals and support staff. The Hospital’s extensive clinical programs are highlighted by signature services in Cancer, Cardiovascular, Digestive Diseases, Emergency Medicine, Orthopedics/Neurospine and Women’s and Children’s Services.

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. With this recent affiliation, the organization is now anchored by three nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the three hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes numerous medical practices and sub-specialties across the region, home health care services, a nationally renowned biomedical research institute, the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation, the Norwalk Hospital Foundation and other affiliates. For more information, visit Share your comments with us at; and/or

About Bankwell

Bankwell is a Connecticut based commercial bank dedicated to providing the best possible service and giving back to the communities it serves.  More about Bankwell can be found at

About Riverbrook Regional YMCA

Serving the coastal city of Norwalk as well as the towns of Georgetown, Redding and Wilton, the Riverbrook Regional YMCA provides services to 134,000 residents across diverse communities. The YMCA is a member-supported charitable organization dedicated to promoting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility by offering a broad range of health enhancing, recreational, educational and social programs that are affordable and accessible to all people in the communities we serve. Our vision is to use all available resources to maximize the personal potential of every person in the community who is affiliated with or takes advantage of our exceptional Y programs and facilities.