SAGINAW TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (06/11/19) - Four years ago Covenant HealthCare announced it was teaming up with the Texas-based MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Joining their network helped keep more care local, and brought MD Anderson's clinical standards and expertise to the region.
Covenant just announced its latest cancer-fighting initiative.
As part of a recent expansion at the Covenant Radiation Center a second Versa HD by Elekta machine was installed. Not only is it the latest and greatest technology, it allows them to treat more patients.
"First and foremost, improved treatment times. We now have two machines that allows us to treat, we've increased our capacity," said Covenant Radiation Center Medical Director Dr. James Fugazzi.
Scheduling used to be a little more tricky considering how many times some patients have to be at the center.
"Took 39 trips over here. Fifteen minutes on the table," said Royce Kriewall, a prostate cancer survivor.
He beat cancer with the help of Covenant's first Versa HD.
The machine precisely targets tumors. "Depending on what areas they're hitting, they can be more gentle to the healthy cells," Kriewall said.
The new machine has a price tag of more than $7 million. Over the last several years Covenant has made more than $25 million in upgrades.
The new machine has what's called BrainLab technology. Fugazzi said it allows staff to do stereotactic radiosurgery. "We're able to do high-dose, pinpoint radiation to small areas, even pea sized areas in the brain," he said.
There also are new imaging capabilities.
"Allows us to do what we call 4D scans so we can actually watch people breathing, watch the tumors moving inside of their bodies," Fugazzi said.
Kriewall was invited to the ribbon cutting as a cancer survivor, and as a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council.
He said he's 'blessed' to live in a country where machines like this are available. "Most people when they hear that word 'cancer' they go to pieces, are basketcases. So why do that when there's a machine that carries a lot of hope to be able to cure you," Kriewall said.