A New Weapon in the Fight Against Cancer
By Kasmer QuinnCancer Care/Oncology June 25, 2019
Chicago, IL – In June 2019, the radiation oncology team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital celebrated the rebuilding of the vault and installation of a new medical linear accelerator (LINAC) radiation therapy machine. The machine uses high-energy therapeutic X-rays to precisely attack a tumor while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.
Since October 2018, the team has been one machine short, which meant working longer hours to ensure each patient was seen in a timely manner. The team has been preparing for the new equipment while managing patient volume, alternate schedules and patient expectations.
“I am very proud that, despite the challenges, our department still achieved Most Valuable Team awards for quarters one through three,” says Amy Stevenson, BSN, RN, CNRN, manager of Radiation Oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The NM-Most Valuable Team awards are earned by each team that achieves its likelihood to recommend target on patient satisfaction surveys. The Patient Engagement Team awards the quarterly honor to teams that achieve top scores.
The new LINAC offers an innovative way to bring advanced radiation treatment to Northwestern Medicine patients. It features several built-in safety measures to ensure that it will deliver the dose as prescribed, and it is routinely checked by a medical physicist to ensure it is working properly. The physics staff worked diligently to ensure all quality and safety parameters were established, and they completed the machine commissioning ahead of schedule.
The entire rebuilding and installation process took eight months.
“During that time, all of us were working longer days with very busy schedules,” says Dr. Jonathan Strauss, radiation oncologist. “Despite this, I don’t think patients noticed one bit. And I think that is the remarkable thing. Our staff was able to maintain an extraordinarily high level of care, competence and kindness while dealing with big logistical hurdles. There are very few health care teams that could accomplish this.”