Community Support Brings Linear Accelerator To Hospital

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(Host) Rutland Regional Medical Center began using a new state of the art machine this week that provides pinpoint radiation to cancer patients.

And as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, the equipment was paid for in a large part by community donations.

(McKenna) "This will be the new treatment console area here – this is what runs the machine." 

(Keck) Linda McKenna, Director of the Foley Cancer Center at Rutland Regional Medical Center, walks through a newly constructed suite of rooms containing what she jokingly refers to as their new baby – a $3.5 million linear accelerator.

(McKenna) "The machine you’ll see is 32,000 pounds – came through this door in three pieces – little tight squeeze.  Got a little nervous, had to move some of the water pipes."

(Keck) Richard Lovett, a radiation oncologist in Rutland, says that while they’ve been using linear accelerators for years, this newer model generates a more accurate beam of radiation – that limits damage to healthy tissue.   And he says the beam also rotates around a patient while providing treatment.

(Lovett) "So it makes the treatment faster and that’s important for someone who has cancer because a lot of the time they’re in pain and they can’t lie flat for long."

(Keck) Lovett says one out of three people will get cancer in their lifetime and about half of those will need radiation therapy. While Fletcher Allen, Dartmouth Hitchcock and Central Vermont hospital have impressive linear accelerators, he says it’s important that patients in the Rutland area have state of the art treatments options as well.

(Lovett) "When you’re traveling an hour for a 15 minute radiation treatment and you’re doing that 30 times over the course of 6 weeks potentially in the winter, you want to have good radiation equipment spread around the state so you don’t have to travel that far."

(Keck) Besides the improved quality of the machine itself, Lovett says the fact that people in the community donated more than one point five million dollars to help purchase it makes it an even more remarkable addition to the hospital. 

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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