March 12, 2009
SAINT JOHN (CNB) - A specialized bunker designed to house two new linear accelerators at the Saint John Regional Hospital will be built by Avondale Construction of Saint John. Ed Doherty, minister of supply and services, made the announcement today.
"I am excited that this project is moving ahead," said Doherty. "These two new linear accelerators, which are used to provide radiation treatments for cancer patients, are vitally important to the health care of New Brunswickers. We expect that the facility to house them will be finished by February 2010."
A linear accelerator is the equipment most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for cancer patients. It delivers a precise, high-energy X-ray beam to a patient's tumour. The beam destroys cancer cells while sparing normal tissue. The accelerator is housed in a room known as a bunker, with lead and concrete walls, so that X-rays do not escape.
"This project is part of our government's ongoing efforts to reduce wait times in New Brunswick," said Health Minister Michael Murphy. "We continue to make progress in this regard when it comes to cancer treatment. Currently, 92 per cent of patients who are ready for treatment are getting access to that treatment within the established Canadian benchmark of four weeks. As a government, we recognize that changing practices and new technology require these investments in order to maintain and to improve patient access for all New Brunswickers."
The equipment is included in $24 million in provincial and federal funding to update and improve radiation therapy for cancer patients at the Saint John Regional Hospital and the Georges L. Dumont Hospital in Moncton.
Site work on the $30-million Saint John Regional Hospital emergency room expansion continues, with tenders for foundations and steel expected to be awarded in the coming weeks.
Funding for the bunkers and the emergency room expansion is being provided through the Department of Health's capital budget, which totals $67 million in 2009-10.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Sharon Jones, communications, Department of Supply and Services, 506-457-7903; Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.