$27-million radiation oncology center unveiled on Sarasota Memorial Health Care System’s University Parkway campus

Advanced technology to be used for more precision in patient treatment

The new Radiation Oncology Center is part of the hospital’s Cancer Institute. Image courtesy Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

This week, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System unveiled a $27-million radiation oncology center, “completing the first phase of its comprehensive Cancer Institute and marking the first time the local health system has provided external beam radiation services to patients on the Suncoast,” Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) announced.

“Located on Sarasota Memorial’s University Parkway campus, the 18,000-square-foot facility is equipped with two Varian TrueBeam linear accelerators designed to precisely target tumors and spare healthy cells from unnecessary radiation exposure,” a news release explains. The technology makes possible safe treatment of smaller tumors in the head, neck, lung, breast, abdomen, spine, prostate and other areas, the release adds.

“It’s the gold standard for radiation oncology with a lot of technology in one package,” said Dr. Kunal Saigal, a radiation oncologist with Florida Cancer Specialists, in the release. Saigal serves as medical director of Sarasota Memorial’s outpatient radiation center, the release notes.

“We want to deliver the most cutting edge, evidence-based radiation oncology treatments available. This is just the beginning,” Saigal added in the release.

The Varian TrueBeam linear accelerators offer pinpoint accuracy and positioning technology, allowing clinicians who are working remotely to adjust a patient’s position by minute amounts during sessions; that ultimately leads to faster treatment, shorter recovery periods and improved outcomes, the release explains.

The center, whose design was based on recommendations from local cancer survivors, also includes “an abundance of natural light and welcoming spaces, a Serenity Patio with soothing water features” and a garden where patients and family members “can reflect and escape into nature,” the release says. Additionally, it features “a support services suite with on-site access to dedicated counseling, patient navigation, financial counseling and other support services,” the release continues.

“We’re focused on patient well-being and the emotional experience just as much as the physical experience,” said Saigal in the release. “This is a very challenging time for individuals, and we need to make sure that we’re able to provide them with the compassion, understanding and empathy they deserve. We want people to feel that warmth from the day they walk in.”

The second phase of the Cancer Institute is a new oncology tower that is under construction and scheduled to open on SMH’s main campus in the fall of 2021, the release points out. “Both facilities will enable the evolving Cancer Institute to deliver services across the entire continuum of cancer care — from prevention, screening and diagnosis to treatment, clinical trials, and lifetime follow-up, survivorship care and support,” the release adds.

“The costs of construction are supported in part by a Sarasota Memorial Health Care Foundation capital campaign,” the release points out.