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CANCER CENTER COMING
The state has approved a new cancer center for the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center; it will be the region's fifth cancer center

Date published: 4/14/2010

BY JIM HALL

The Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center has received state approval to offer radiation treatments to its cancer patients.

The new hospital received a "certificate of public need" from the Department of Health last week to add radiation therapy and two companion programs, CT simulation and mobile PET/CT services, to its offerings.

Its application for stereotactic radiosurgery, an advanced procedure primarily for patients with brain cancer, was rejected.

The approval represents a dramatic change in thinking for the state and expands the treatment options for local cancer patients. The region has two cancer centers now, but by summer of next year, it will have five.

Dr. Karen Remley, state health commissioner, said no to any expansion of local cancer services last year, when she rejected proposals from Spotsylvania Regional and Mary Washington Healthcare.

Neither project was needed, she said, since the busiest cancer center in the region, Mary Washington's Cancer Center of Virginia on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County, was doing only 15,000 procedures a year. State regulations say that a facility like the Cancer Center should be doing a minimum of 16,000 procedures a year before an expansion will be considered.

This year, after the two companies resubmitted proposals, Remley changed her mind. In February, she approved a permit for a new cancer center on the Mary Washington Hospital campus, saying that by the time it opens, the Cancer Center of Virginia will be at capacity.

And last week, in approving Spotsylvania Regional's plan, she said she wanted to "foster institutional competition that is expected to benefit the area served."

Officials at Spotsylvania Regional feared that the state would see little need for their project after Mary Washington's was approved. But they argued successfully that it would be better for their patients if they could offer a full range of cancer services--surgery, chemotherapy and radiation--under one roof.

"That means cancer patients who need multiple types of treatment--and many of them do--won't need to travel to other facilities to get them," said Tim Tobin, chief executive officer, in a statement.

The company expects to spend about $6.4 million on the project. The new equipment, including a linear accelerator, will be housed in the medical office building adjacent to the hospital.

Construction is expected to begin in November and be completed next May. The hospital opens June 7.

Jim Hall: 540/374-5433
Email: jhall@freelancestar.com


CANCER CENTER OF VIRGINIA

Fredericksburg

2 linear accelerators

CULPEPER REGIONAL HOSPITAL

Culpeper

1 linear accelerator

Opens in summer 2010

MARY WASHINGTON HOSPITAL

Fredericksburg

1 linear accelerator

Opens in summer 2011

MID-RIVERS CANCER CENTER

Montross

1 linear accelerator

SPOTSYLVANIA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER

Spotsylvania

1 linear accelerator

Opens in May 2011

Spotsylvania Regional got most of what it asked for last week when the state approved its cancer center plans.

The exception was its request to do stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS. The state said no to that part of its plan.

Two hospitals in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia Medical Center and Martha Jefferson, offer the service, and Mary Washington Hospital received state approval in February to begin an SRS program in summer 2011.

Stereotactic radiosurgery focuses X-rays on one area of the body, sparing adjoining tissue. It is usually done on patients with brain tumors, though Mary Washington has said it hopes to expand the program to tumors of the spine, lungs and other sites.