Coming soon: Radiation oncology at Memorial Hospital North

UCHealth continues expansion of care in northern Colorado Springs
Feb. 3, 2016

Residents of northern Colorado Springs and southern Douglas County who have cancer will soon have access to cutting-edge radiation oncology technology in a new building that is nearly completed on the campus of Memorial Hospital North.

Memorial’s oncology providers will begin treating patients in the new 9,600-square-foot radiation technology building on April 4. A “Day in the Life’’ dry run to ensure all systems are working properly will be held March 30; an open house for internal and external providers and employees is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. the same day.

“We are excited about opening this new building,’’ said Daniel Lenard, radiation oncology manager for UCHealth Memorial Hospital. “The building houses a new Varian Truebeam linear accelerator, which will provide leading-edge radiation treatment to cancer patients – and it is the first such piece of equipment on the north side of Colorado Springs.’’

Lenard estimates that 40 percent of patients who currently receive radiation therapy at Memorial Hospital Central live in northern Colorado Springs. In the coming months, Memorial also will add a second new linear accelerator at Memorial Hospital Central.
Varian TrueBeam linear acceleratorA $10.4 million radiation oncology building is set to open April 4 on the campus of Memorial Hospital North.
In the new building on the north campus, walls are painted, tile is set and the linear accelerator, which allows clinicians to deliver higher doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy, is in place.

A linear accelerator delivers ionizing radiation beams to the body. Ionizing radiation is made of high energy waves that damage cancer cells and destroy their ability to grow. Targeted radiation shrinks tumors of all shapes and sizes. The treatment is designed to get rid of the cancer without harming nearby healthy tissue.

“This machine is extremely precise and integrates imaging and radiation for cancers of all types. Our radiation therapists, oncologists, medical physicists and others will undergo about 1,300 hours of training before we use it,’’ Lenard said.

According to the American Society for Radiation Oncology, two out of three people with cancer have some form of radiation therapy as part of their treatment.

The new building and linear accelerator represent a $10.4 million investment by UCHealth in Colorado Springs. The investment is part of UCHealth’s ongoing commitment to northern Colorado Springs, where oncology, cardiology and primary care services have been greatly enhanced.

The new linear accelerator sits in a vault of concrete, with 7.5-feet-thick walls of high-density concrete to shield and absorb radiation. The building is outfitted with sophisticated air-handling systems to ensure safe care for patients and a safe environment for the community.
A Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator, which provides leading-edge radiation treatment to cancer patients, is the first such piece of equipment on the north side of Colorado Springs.
“It’s getting very close to completion,’’ said Norm Wolfe, senior project manager for Design and Construction at Memorial Hospital.

Wolfe said UCHealth has worked with numerous community contractors to complete the building, which has been designed to accommodate expansion – an additional two to three floors on the building.  GE Johnson Construction Co. has served as the general contractor. E Light Electric served as the electrical contractor and RK Mechanical provided mechanical and plumbing in the building.

The concrete company, TransitMix, did three test pours on the concrete to create the high-density material needed for the project. A physics test will be completed by Landauer Medical Physics. Data collected by Landauer then will be reviewed by the State of Colorado before a certificate of occupancy is awarded.

Cancer patients who receive care at any UCHealth cancer facility have access to the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Aurora, the only Comprehensive Cancer Center in Colorado designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and one of just 45 in the country.

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.