Construction continues on $119 million proton therapy center in Knoxville
Mounds of dirt have been moved and millions of pounds of concrete poured as workers continue to make progress on the construction of the state's first proton therapy center for cancer treatment.
Six months after site work began on the campus of the Provision Health Alliance at Dowell Springs in Knoxville, officials will mark the completion of foundation work for the $119 million, 90,000-square-foot facility.
"The scope and magnitude of the facility itself is breathtaking because it has to be built to accommodate such large pieces of equipment that delivers very precise doses of proton beam radiation," Provision Healthcare Executive Vice President Rick Johnson said.
Gov. Bill Haslam is scheduled to join local elected and community leaders to celebrate the milestone and to tout the project's estimated $1.5 million annual economic impact. It also is expected to create 1,250 construction jobs as well as 100 high-paying operations jobs.
Plans to bring proton therapy to East Tennessee began more than two years ago by local businessman Terry Douglass and his nonprofit foundation Provision Trust.
Proton therapy is a noninvasive and painless form of radiation treatment that has minimal to no side effects as it targets the tumor site without harming healthy tissue and organs, according to the National Association for Proton Therapy.
Workers are in the very early phase of beginning the erection of the steel structure of the building. The center, which is slated to open in early 2014, will feature three treatment units, with the capability of expanding to five. It will be able to treat 1,500 patients per year.
When complete, the project will include 14,400 cubic yards of concrete weighing as much as 57 million pounds. A 220-ton cyclotron that produces the protons will have to be shipped to Knoxville by barge.
It's easy, Johnson said, "to sort of get awe-struck by the magnitude of it all."
The center will be open to all credentialed physicians and all health systems in the region.
Currently, there are only 10 proton therapy centers operating in the country. They are located at such medical facilities as M.D. Anderson, Loma Linda Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and soon the Mayo Clinic.
Source: Knoxville News Sentinel