May 17, 2022

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UnityPoint donates linear accelerator | News, Sports, Jobs

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-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Brad Voeste, of H&H installations, begins to disassemble the linear accelerator on Saturday. The parts will be reused in developing countries or recycled.

Radiation treatment is a medical advancement that has saved thousands of lives.

That’s why UnityPoint Health — Fort Dodge sought to upgrade its linear accelerator, the machine responsible for providing radiation beam treatments to cancer patients.

Through its campaign called Radiating Hope, the hospital was able to purchase a new Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator. It replaced the hospital’s older model in April of 2021.

The older model was used beginning in 2012 when the Trinity Cancer Center opened. The machine, purchased by Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, was brought over from Webster City at that time.

The new model reduces the number of treatments patients have to receive. It is also more accurate, causing less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Tom Welker, a driver for Legacy, carries out a cover for the linear accelerator that is being donated. Crews disassembled the machine on Saturday. Parts will be recycled or sent to hospitals in developing countries for use.

But what happens to the older model, which still has valuable parts and equipment?

Sometimes parts from machines no longer being used can end up in landfills. That was something UnityPoint did not want to see happen, according to Carol Grannon, executive director for the Trinity Foundation.

So she reached out to a nonprofit called Radiating Hope, a name the Trinity Foundation borrowed for its own campaign.

Radiating Hope, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, secures available radiation machines, transports them to developing countries in need and trains staff on how to use them.

“They said they absolutely would be interested in the machine,” Grannon said. “We liked the idea that it could still go on and do good.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
The mechanisms inside a linear accelerator are shown here.

Radiating Hope is working with Varian to transport the older model.

On Saturday, workers arrived at the Cancer Center to disassemble the machine.

Tom Welker, a driver employed by Legacy, was there to transport it.

He was the same driver who delivered the new accelerator to the hospital.

“Coincidently, I brought the same machine here last year,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
The new Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator has been in use at the Trinity Cancer Center since April of 2021.

Workers from H&H Installations would spend a majority of the day disassembling the machine and taking it out in crates.

“It’s -4 outside and I still manage to work up a sweat,” said Alden Rutledge, a worker for H&H Installations.

The parts that aren’t used directly will be recycled.

Grannon is thankful for the generous donations that made the new linear accelerator possible. She’s also happy to see that the older model will provide value to other hospitals in developing countries.

“This is a way we can give back and help other people who don’t have the same access health care that we have,” she said. “We are happy to help in any way we can for all the help that we receive.”

The total cost of the Radiating Hope project was $4,032,000. Trinity Regional Medical Center paid $830,000 toward the project and Trinity Foundation committed to raising the balance. To date, $2,850,000 has been raised, which leaves a balance of approximately $352,000.

“We are sincerely grateful to everyone who has contributed to the Radiating Hope campaign,” Grannon said. “This campaign for a new linear accelerator is vital to the continuation of radiation services in our region. Your belief in what we do is key to our success in fundraising and also as an organization. We feel honored that you have chosen to invest with us and encourage others to think about what then can do to help us finish this campaign.”

To make a contribution, contact Grannon or Cassy George at Trinity Foundation, 804 Kenyon Road, Suite A or call 515-574-6509.

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