A treatment center at Turlock’s Emanuel Medical Center now has double the capacity for treating patients with cancer.
The Stanford-Emanuel Radiation Oncology Center has added a second linear accelerator for delivering doses of radiation to treat malignant tumors.
The center on East Tuolumne Road is a joint venture of Emanuel and Stanford Health Care and began treating cancer patients from the Central Valley in 2007.
The recent expansion just happened to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the partnership.
Alisa Ward, the center’s manager, said the facility has been treating up to 45 patients a day, more than twice the normal patient load, so the decision was made to install a second linear accelerator. The second machine is a multimillion-dollar investment.
“Our reputation has grown over the years,” Ward said in explaining the growing number of patients. “The patients come from all over the Central Valley, but mostly from Stanislaus and Merced counties.”
Because of the influx of patients, some people could not be scheduled for treatment during normal business hours. Some appointments were as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m.
The 300 to 400 patients served by the center each year may need a single appointment or up to 43 treatment sessions.
The new machine was installed and tested over the summer and was put into use in late October.
The diseases most commonly treated at the Stanford-Emanuel center are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and head and neck tumors.
By using advanced imaging, the linear accelerator can deliver a highly focused radiation beam to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells. Plus, patients can benefit from the care of Stanford specialists without making a trip to Palo Alto.
Dr. Sandra Zaky, a radiation oncologist with Stanford, said radiation may be the curative treatment for some patients or serve to reduce a tumor before an operation. Some patients need post-operative radiation treatment to control the cancer, she said.
“We see a lot of skin cancer,” Zaky said. “A lot of dermatologists collaborate with us. When they’re unable to cut the tumor out or it’s in an area where it will be a bad outcome cosmetically, they send the patient to us.”
Zaky said the center provides the world-class Stanford quality of care that is not available at other hospitals in the region. “We discuss our complicated cases with our partners in Palo Alto and make sure our doctors are on the same page in devising the best plans for these patients,” she said.
Ward said the center serves a mixture of patients with private insurance and government-funded coverage, and sometimes it has more patients in the Medi-Cal and Medicare programs than those with traditional health insurance.
Emanuel was an independent nonprofit hospital when it originally forged the partnership with Stanford, which was looking to bring its treatment services to outlying communities.
Tenet Healthcare Corp., a large hospital chain based in Dallas, completed a deal to acquire Emanuel in 2014. “It has been a great partnership with Emanuel for the past 10 years,” Zaky said.