Behind Southside Regional Medical Center, bulldozers and backhoes work on a new $10 million cancer center for an area with Virginia's second highest cancer mortality rate.
"It can't happen soon enough from my perspective," said Dr. David Penberthy, director of radiation oncology at Southside. "This will be one stop for patients, and it will be a tremendous advantage for the community."
Dr. Penberthy will be at the helm of the new center, scheduled to open at the end of 2013. Right now, ambulances take cancer patients from their rooms in Southside Medical Center to the current cancer facility about a mile away. By late autumn, all cancer treatment at Southside will be under one roof.
"Our capabilities here will be comparable to anywhere in the region," Dr. Penberthy said in an interview Tuesday. "I will be in a larger space, we will have new equipment, and we will be able to enhance and expand our capabilities to treat many different types of cancer."
The new building, envisioned for five years, will have space for women's imaging and gynecology. The site will also host a new advanced cancer treatment machine, known as a linear accelerator. There will be room to add a second linear accelerator, each with a cost of $3 million, in the future.
No studies have been conducted to answer why the cancer mortality rate around Petersburg ranks second highest in Virginia. Portsmouth has the Commonwealth's highest rate.
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