New radiation equipment at the Big Horn Basin Cancer Center was the star of the show during Thursday’s grand re-opening.
Paid for by a $5.2 million grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust of New York City, the new equipment has been in operation since late-July.
Part of a joint venture between West Park Hospital and St. Vincent Healthcare, the center in Cody sought the funds to replace an existing 14-year-old linear accelerator.
“This is a reaffirmation of the vision that began in 1999 when Frontier Oncology opened,” St. Vincent Healthcare CEO Jason Barker said. “This lets us reaffirm our commitment to cancer care in the region.”
The grant was used to purchase a new “Infinity model Agility multileaf collimator linear accelerator” as well as cover five years of service on the machine and general office upgrades. The machine’s 150 multileaf collimator creates less unwanted radiation during treatment and speeds the process.
“In the past, radiation treatment could take up to 30 minutes,” radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Gilroy said. “Now it can be done in 3-5 minutes.”
Elekta sales representative Mike Bauer, whose company made the linear accelerator now in use at the cancer center, said this technology moves Cody to the forefront of radiation treatment.
“This is the first machine of its caliber in Wyoming, Montana or Idaho,” Bauer said, explaining that Billings has a similar machine with a lower multileaf collimator count. “To my knowledge, they don’t have one in Denver or Salt Lake City. You have to travel all the way to Washington State or Oregon to see another one of these.
“This is where the technology is going,” he added. “I predict in 4-5 years we will see this technology everywhere.”
Another highlight of the open house came when Girl Scouts of America representatives announced they had donated 60 cases of the popular scout cookies for cancer patients.