Radiologist says consultants best to determine type of radiation services

Cory Hurley
Published on June 7, 2014
Susan Gillam, Western Health chief executive officer, speaks during a press conference held in Corner Brook Friday.
Star photo by Cory Hurley

Radiologist Bob Cook says the particulars of the radiation therapy services that will be housed in the new regional hospital are not as important as the service itself.

The doctor, who spoke in favour of the addition of radiation therapy prior to government’s commitment, was reacting to the announcement Friday that a contract to plan radiation services for the new Corner Brook hospital has been awarded to Altus Planning Inc.

The consulting firm out of Alberta — said to have “significant experience in radiation treatment planning and implementation” — will prepare a plan before the end of June for the type of radiation therapy services the hospital will receive.

 “I don’t think it will matter whether it is a single or dual bunker, I think it is a decision best made by consultants,” Cook said. “Look at the entire setup we are proposing and determine what will work best. They obviously have more experience in this than we do.”

In the end, it’s the patients who will benefit. Cook sees the greatest impact for radiation on medical services within the palliative care sector.

“I know there is a fear that this will be underutilized, but I think once we start to utilize radiation the way it should be utilized, there won’t be an issue,” Cook said.

Altus has also been contracted to review the current and future demands for radiation therapy in the province, and identify and evaluate models of service delivery in other jurisdictions which could be implemented. This work will be completed by September.

Premier Tom Marshall, who has been widely recognized as a driver for the construction of a new hospital and its development as a state-of-the-art facility, said reaching this stage puts the project back on track.

“We have to do it the right way,” he said. “We listened to the experts, we listened to the people here about the services they want in it, but we have to make the decision.”

Also announced at a press conference held at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook Friday morning was the release of two tenders to assist with preparing the new hospital site. The tenders include excavation and site grading, along with partial on-site water and sewer infrastructure, installation of an underground concrete water storage tank and connection of the reservoir to the city’s water distribution system.

“Work will commence this summer, and it will be finished in this year’s construction season,” Marshall said.

While the functional plan is being finalized, the premier also said the Department of Transportation and Works is evaluating proposals for the request for proposal process. It is suspected government will award the contract for design services in the coming weeks.

There are five groups pre-qualified to do the design-build, according to the premier.

Marshall would not give a firm estimate on when the hospital will be built, but he did say it will be sooner than eight years.