Patients at the radiation oncology department at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights will notice technological and aesthetic renovations that officials hope will not only make the department more soothing, but also save lives.
Among the additions in the $1.9 million renovation is a 4D CT scanner, which takes motion into account when examining internal organs, said Dr. Stephen Nigh, director of radiation oncology at the hospital.
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It's most helpful in cases of lung or pancreatic cancer where the tumors move when the patient breathes, making imaging difficult, he said. The scanner also is larger to accommodate more patients.
"To plan radiation you have to be crystal clear and see the target," he said. "That allows you to deliver the radiation more precisely."
The scanner also has metal artifact reduction, which helps in cases where patients have orthopedic implants such as a hip replacement or rods in their spine. With past technology, the metal would blur the images in the scans, making it difficult to see tumors near those implants, Nigh said.
"The technology will drive us to a more precise delivery of radiation and hopefully cure more patients, and that's the ultimate goal," Nigh said.
Aside from the technological improvements, the waiting area and exam rooms also received makeovers to make them more welcoming. The renovations include a new private area for patients to change into gowns before or after treatment.
The improvements were funded entirely through donations.
For Janet Boyle, of Arlington Heights, donating to the project was about giving back to the hospital that helped save her life.
Boyle was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Northwest Community Hospital.
"When I was done with the whole thing I was so grateful to all the doctors, technicians and everyone else that I wanted to get involved," said Boyle, who now chairs the hospital's foundation board.
"When you walk in there as a patient it is a very frightening experience," Boyle said. "The old department was fine, but this just makes it so much more welcoming, calming and friendly."
One room in the department is now named for Bruce Anderson's wife, Ann, who fought a five-year battle with lung cancer at NCH, including 37 radiation treatments at the department before her death in 2010. The renovations were dedicated on Feb. 11, which would have been Ann's birthday.
"That was sort of a double bonus. Happy birthday Ann, look what we did for you," Anderson said of his family's donation to the project.
When Ann was diagnosed in 2005 she was given six to eight months to live, said Anderson, who splits his time between a homes in Inverness and Florida.
"They gave us five years," he said. "You don't realize the value of that hospital until you need it."