It is not just the physical layout of the Heartland Cancer Center (HCC) that will change as the facility grows by 10,000 square feet.
Plans also call for new equipment that will allow even more precise radiation treatments at the Great Bend center.
A new repositioning system by Varian Medical Systems, coupled with portal imaging capabilities will allow real-time images of treatment fields, said Becky Troyer, HCC director.
“This allows for more precise treatment delivery,” Troyer said. “It also adds to our culture of safety since all imaging will be digital. There will be no need for our radiation therapists to leave the immediate area to have films checked by the oncologist.
“All our physicians and staff will have immediate access to the localized images as soon as they are taken,” she elaborated. “A patient’s positioning can be checked from any of Central Care Cancer Center’s locations.”
Central Care provides the oncologists, staff and equipment to HCC, 204 Cleveland. It is based in Salina and has 13 locations throughout Kansas and western Missouri.
“All of us are excited about this new repositioning system,” Troyer commented. “It will make automatic shifts of the tabletop for optimal positioning, which reduces set-up time.
“Not only is this imaging system more precise,” she added, “the treatments can be done faster in a safer environment for patients and staff.”
Jason Tracy, Central Care’s medical physicist, played an instrumental role in choosing the new equipment that will be delivered in the near future.
A medical physicist is in charge of calibrating radiation equipment, as well as quality assurance for each patient’s treatment plan and throughout the entire department.
“When cancer treatments are discussed, options include chemotherapy, surgery and radiation,” Tracy said. “Medical physicists are strictly on the radiation side. We collaborate with physicians in designing particular treatment plans for individual patients.
“We ensure the equipment delivers the prescribed radiation dosage,” he continued. “Medical physicists don’t prescribe but once a physician says ‘this is what we need,’ we say ‘this is how we will do it.’”
Medical physicists are in a unique position, Tracy said, because they understand all aspects of the clinic from the technical side of the equation.
“We can sniff out problems before they occur,” he explained. “We can predict what the issues might be and make sure they don’t happen.”
If an oncologist wants to try new modalities, Tracy noted, the medical physicist will find the best way to achieve the goal.
“We will work with the physicians and staff so that any standard or new modality is efficient, effective and safe,” he said. “The bottom line is we provide the technical expertise to the physicians.”
The Central Care radiation oncologists that treat Great Bend-area patients are Claudia Perez-Tamayo, M.D., and Tom Hegarty, M.D. Their medical oncology colleagues are Mark Fesen, M.D., and Greg Nanney, M.D.
Construction on the HCC expansion will begin soon.