Radonc Dispatch April 2010

All the news that's just barely fit to print

cancer hospitalNew Digs

The department has finally moved into a brand new building with a ton of space . We're situated into a hill so offices on even the sub-basement treatment floor have large windows.  There's finally a place for everyone and A/C that actually works, along with more space for patients, a better patient waiting area (complete with individual changing rooms and a huge round skylight that looks like Star Trek style "Transporter" pad, see right), and 4 vaults in the building, although we only have 3 linac's right now.  We're looking at vendors for the new linac for vault #4.  The CyberKnife is still in the basement vault of the old Hospital Basement.

The Gravely Building has been demolished, piece by piece by tedious piece. It turns out that 3 foot thick slabs of reinforced leaded concrete takes quite a long time to break apart. It's site is planned for a patient check-in & welcome center with valet parking. 

CyberKnife

The CyberKnife, acquired 2 years ago and just paying for itself now, is run by Dr. David Morris and coordinator Jerry Chalvez, RN.  We're doing lung treatments and Eric Shreiber is studying 4-fraction prostate setups as well. Aside from a few startup issues in the first 2 months that took the machine down for days, it's been running very smoothly.

Pix and more info at the CyberKnife Center web pages: /radonc/patient/treatments/ck

Patient Load

We've been treating about 120 patients per day in Chapel Hill, for 10-12 hours/day, on the 3 linac's.  The hospital is providing lots of support through free ammenities -- like pizza and chair massages -- but it's been tough on the staff.   We may get a bit of help by training dosimetry students in the clinic, and are in the running for a CON (Certificate of Need) from the State for a 4th linac or other treatment device.

Sister Clinics

Our department is managing the operations of a few neighborhood Radonc clinics: Wakefield, Smithfield, and Clayton (?) in Wake County; ECU in Greenville; and Rex/UNC in Raleigh.  It's a good thing we hired those 4 new doctors -- Drs. Ron Chen, Bhisham Chera, Ellen Jones & Andy Wang -- so that we have enough doctor-power to handle the remote facilities.  The Rex facility came with a few doctors -- Drs. Roger Anderson, Pete Hoffman, Catherine Lee, Robert Ornitz, Charles Scarantino, and new hire Justin Wu -- that have been merged with UNC faculty and are now considered a single group.

Medical Physics Residency Program

We're starting a new program in June 2010 and have enrolled our first student, Sue Xu.

PLUNC: another year

The PLanUNC software suite has been granted one more year to prove itself, or be replaced by a commercial RTP system.  The hospital is paying for 2-3 PLanUNC programmers because it does not have to pay for a maintenance contract on a commercial system this year.

Department Picnic

The catered picnic was held at a park in Carrboro and very well attended by friends and family for contests of skill and amusement.  Well done, Picnic Planning Committee!