The Lawrence Memorial Hospital board of trustees endorsed a plan Wednesday that would provide high-quality radiation therapy for cancer patients of Lawrence and Douglas County, who've long had to go to Topeka or the Kansas City area to receive that treatment.
In the next 10 to 12 months, Lawrence Memorial Hospital plans to have completed a 9,000-square-foot addition to its 3-year-old Oncology Center that would house a linear accelerator, additional treatment areas and a second-floor space for possible future expansion.
"This is significant because, to date, radiation oncology has been the missing piece in order to complete our vision of a community cancer center. We have wonderful, medical oncology staff and surgeons, but in order to offer full treatment options, radiation is imperative," said Gene Meyer, the hospital's chief executive officer.
Having a linear accelerator a machine used to administer radiation therapy located in Lawrence with a trained staff to run it will do much to reduce stress for cancer patients in the area.
"The physical impact of radiation, if one has to travel great distances for it, create an almost overwhelming impact on the oncology patient," Meyer said.
LMH will contract with Radiation Oncology Associates of Kansas City, a partnership that will provide an on-site radiation oncologist and other professional staff to operate the specialized equipment.
The price tag for the project is estimated at $2.9 million.
The eight-member group of board-certified radiation oncologists from the Kansas City area will contribute $1.064 million to pay for the linear accelerator vault and the addition's tenant-finish costs.
LMH, as the project's long-term financier, will provide just under $1.9 million to construct the addition.
The Oncology Center is located in the Lawrence Health Plaza, which is attached to the hospital. The addition will be built to the south of the plaza, adjacent to the existing Oncology Center.
"This (project) will provide the citizens of Lawrence and Douglas County with quality care for patients with cancer. With the addition of radiation, we will now have all three major therapeutic components needed to treat cancer: surgical, medical and radiation," said Dr. Ron Stephens, the Oncology Center's medical director.