Thick walls wrap cancer center

February 27, 2002 12:00 am
WALLS ENCLOSING the linear accelerator at the new cancer center will take as much concrete as it takes to build 15 average-size homes.  Joseph Kreiss/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat ().
WALLS ENCLOSING the linear accelerator at the new cancer center will take as much concrete as it takes to build 15 average-size homes. Joseph Kreiss/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat ().

By JOSEPH KREISS

To provide a shield against radiation from the Sonora Cancer Centers linear accelerator energy beam, walls, floor and ceiling surrounding this $2 million piece of medical equipment have to be thick. Really thick. Like seven solid feet of concrete thick.

Construction crews from Sacramento Rebar are framing the 20-foot by 30-foot room within the new Sonora Community Hospitals medical office building with a web of extra-strength, one-inch-diameter steel rods used to reinforce the soon-to-be-poured concrete walls.

Theres not many buildings around like it, said Jerry Newman with Hospital Building and Equipment Company, overseeing the project.

The bunker-like enclosure is at ground level in the three-story, 45,000-square-foot medical office building going up next to the new hospital, also under construction, at Greenley Road and Delnero Drive.

Once construction is complete, the average person wont be able to see just how massive this corner of the building really is.

The cancer centers linear accelerator unit, already in use on the current Sonora Community Hospital campus, is encased in a special building, also with the thick concrete walls. The unit is used to treat cancer patients with electronically produced radiation. The equipment shoots a beam of radiation into the patients body to help kill cancer cells.

The cancer center has been at the Forest Road location for about 10 years, said Val Devitt, hospital project coordinator. The state-of-the-art linear accelerator unit, installed at the center two years ago, will be moved to the new facility when the hospital opens in early 2003.

The unit will be part of a comprehensive centralized cancer center which will offer diagnostic services, radiation and chemotherapy treatment. The Sonora Cancer Center, a separate organization from the hospital, but affiliated with it, will lease the space at the new hospital.