KINGSPORT – Physicians, employees and Wellmont Foundation volunteers will gather Thursday, June 15, to celebrate the advancement of cancer treatment at Holston Valley Medical Center.

A ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for a new linear accelerator will be held at 2:30 p.m. at The Christine LaGuardia Phillips Cancer Center. The 2100c linear accelerator replaces a 20-year-old accelerator unit and brings the latest medical technology to Kingsport.

The new accelerator will be housed in a highly specialized chamber constructed with proceeds raised by the Wellmont Foundation’s 1999 Three Star Gala. The new vault is located adjacent to the current cancer center.

“The assistance in financing the construction of housing for a new linear accelerator is but another example of the Gala’s remarkable and much-appreciated generosity,” said Brooks Talton, MD, a radiation oncologist at the cancer center.

The 2100c linear accelerator will allow physicians to more precisely administer high doses of radiation to cancerous tissues while minimizing the dose to surrounding healthy tissue. The new unit features a special multileaf collimation system that enables physicians to control the shape of the radiation beam and block healthy organs and tissues from most radiation.

“This translates into fewer long-term side effects, thus significantly improving the quality of life for patients undergoing cancer treatment,” said radiation oncologist Ernest Helms, MD.

Because the new linear accelerator is 21 million more times powerful than a typical X-ray machine, it must be located in a special chamber. The newly constructed vault, which has walls of steel-reinforced concrete several feet thick, will house the new unit.

Jamie Hyatt, Chairman of the 1999 Three Star Gala Committee, said the new vault and the linear accelerator within it will help improve the lives of cancer patients at HVMC.

“When I learned one in three people will develop cancer, I knew this was a good cause for the Gala,” Hyatt said. “Wellmont had the linear accelerator ready to purchase but no place to put it. Construction of the vault was the right thing to do at the right time.”

Over the past 13 years, the Three Star Gala has raised more than $6 million to improve health care for the people of the region. The 2000 Gala will fund the acquisition of a highly specialized mammography unit.

The Christine LaGuardia Phillips Cancer Center is a comprehensive provider of oncology care and is dedicated to improving all aspects of cancer patients’ care through early detection and innovative therapy. The cancer center provides cancer education, prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and research.


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Jim Wozniak
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