The replacement project for a new linear accelerator at the Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center is well underway, as the concrete pad is on track for deliver, and the new unit installation has a timeline of mid-October.
It has been a year since Fitzgibbon Hospital announced the capital campaign to help offset replacement costs for its linear accelerator, the medical device that delivers radiation therapy to cancer patients. Those plans have become reality in recent weeks, as the old device has been removed, and the concrete vault has been undergoing renovations to accommodate the new linear accelerator. In all, the project is a total capital investment of $2 million. This includes the purchase of the Varian Vitalbeam machine and significant site upgrades to accommodate the installation. The project is expected to be completed on Nov. 16. However the capital campaign is ongoing, and donations toward this significant expense are still welcomed.
“This is truly a concrete vault,” said Rudy Reyes, Facilities Director for Fitzgibbon Hospital. “In order to accommodate the linear accelerator, this room has 4-foot to 8-foot-thick concrete walls, ceiling and floor. When we originally built the vault, there wasn’t really a consideration for what it would take to bring a new device into the facility. We have planned for this now for nearly two years. And so far it is going just as we planned.”
One of the challenges of the linear accelerator room is that there is not a doorway big enough to accommodate a new device when it is delivered from the vendor, so the maintenance staff at Fitzgibbon Hospital is making modifications to the building in order to be ready to receive it. In addition, the mounting hardware of the previous device, encased firmly in the thick concrete floor, had to be removed. Then a new concrete floor needed to be poured and new mounting hardware installed to fit the new, heavier linear accelerator.
“I am very proud of our staff. We have been able to do much of the work in-house, despite how difficult it is to accomplish. We have also been able to contract with the same contractor who helped to build the facility originally. So that has been a great ‘plus’ as well in how smooth this project has gone,” said Reyes.
The Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center has remained open during the installation because many patients currently receive chemotherapy treatments with Mark Tungesvik, M.D. Dr. Tungesvik is a medical oncologist who oversees patients’ chemotherapy drug infusions, which are different from radiation therapy cancer treatments, which use the linear accelerator.
“We continue to see radiation patients for consultation and follow-up appointments here at Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center with William Decker, M.D.,” said Heather Bourbon, B.A./R.T., Cancer Center manager. “Patients needing to start radiation treatment before our project is complete will have the option to receive treatment with Dr. Decker at another facility.”
Fitzgibbon Hospital is collaborating with Bothwell Regional Health Center to provide radiation therapy while the new linear accelerator is being installed. Fitzgibbon Hospital provided the same service to Bothwell, which replaced its linear accelerator earlier this summer.
To make a gift or tax-deductible donation in 2021 and take advantage of deductions in this calendar year, please contact Andrea Barr, Foundation Director, at (660) 831-3850 or click on the “Giving Back” button found on the hospital’s website at www.fitzgibbon.org.