Riverview addition for new cancer surgery approved



Riverview Medical Center’s application for amended site plan approval with bulk variances to permit construction of a 2,950-square-foot addition to house new CyberKnife cancer, tumor and lesion radiation treatment technology, sailed through the Red Bank Planning Board Oct. 11. After brief discussions of parking and landscaping plans, the application received unanimous board approval.

The planned addition includes a 1,500-square-foot bunker that contains the radiosurgery treatment area and an additional 1,600-square-foot support area that will house a nurses’ station, control room with multiple monitoring computers, patient area and work area for a physicist who is in attendance during treatments. After seeing color renderings of the proposed project, and learning that building modifications will screen existing rooftop equipment from view, Red Bank Mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr., who sits on the Planning Board, said the building “will actually look better.”

Currently the CyberKnife equipment is in use at Overlook Hospital, in Summit. Riverview will become the second medical facility in the state to offer the treatment, one of only about 15 or 20 in the United States.

After learning that in many cases, patients can be treated in a single 30- to 90-minute procedure, McKenna commented enthusiastically in favor of the application. He expressed appreciation to Riverview’s parent company, Meridian Health, for its support of the area. The Mayor termed the equipment that will be available to the community extraordinary. Councilman John P. Curley stated that he “supported the technology wholeheartedly.”

Riverview’s architect Michael Rabin, of Larsen Shein Ginsberg Snyder, New York, advised that the new facility will be located adjacent to the Booker Cancer Center’s existing radiation area, at the hospital’s eastern end, and will extend the building closer to Front Street. Additional landscaping with shrubs and trees is called for.

A reconfigured parking lot will include two additional spaces to accommodate the additional nurse and doctor that will be employed. Riverview will also make a $1,000 contribution to the Borough of Red Bank’s parking fund, as the hospital’s overall parking is insufficient to meet ordinance requirements.

The hospital received a donation of $4 million from the Booker Foundation, $2 million of which is being used for acquisition of the CyberKnife, according to Diane Gribbin, Riverview’s communications and marketing manager.

The hospital constructed a $1.5 million self-contained CyberKnife suite to house the device and its operating theater, along with its own computerized tomography (CT) scan, Rabin testified.

If all goes according to plan, treatment will be available in June or July 2005. The equipment will operate five days per week during the daytime. Each day, four to five patients will receive treatment, explained Roy Stein, facilities manager at Riverview.

Accuray Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., the equipment manufacturer, has a waiting list for CyberKnife systems. In order to be ready for the equipment as soon as it is manufactured, Riverview seeks to begin construction before the ground freezes. The bunker facility for the radiation equipment requires 80 feet deep caissons. The board’s approval paved the way for initial construction work. Borough Administrator and Construction Official Stanley J. Sickels advised that borough construction officials could review construction plans for the caissons without waiting for the completion of the remaining construction documents.

Curley asked Riverview attorney Donald Steel whether the hospital had any plans to expand its parking garage. Upon hearing that it did not, he said, “I do wish Riverview would get serious about the parking situation.”

According to information on its Web site, www.Accuray.com, the CyberKnife represents a new approach to radiosurgery. Incorporating a compact, lightweight linear accelerator mounted on a robotic arm, the CyberKnife provides the surgeon unparalleled flexibility in targeting. Advanced image guidance technology tracks patient and target position during treatment, ensuring accuracy without the use of an invasive head frame.

Multiple beams of high-energy radiation delivered from multiple points outside the body converge precisely at the tumor or lesion inside the body. Each individual beam is not sufficient to cause harm, but the convergence of all the beams at the tumor results in the lesion receiving a very high dose of radiation while sparing nearby normal tissue.

The Web site describes CyberKnife as precise, painless, noninvasive radiation treatment that can be an alternative to conventional surgery in certain cases.

CyberKnife radiosurgery is so precise, according to its manufacturer, that radiation beams can be sculpted to small, complex-shaped tumors near critical structures, such as hearing and vision nerves. This ability allows treatment of lesions, which otherwise may be considered inoperable or untreatable.