MISSOULA, Mont. - Patients in western Montana can now have access to all forms of cancer treatment at Community Medical Center, rather than previously having to go to different providers. They treat medical, surgical and now radiation.
A doctor showed NBC Montana their new state-of-the-art equipment for treating cancer patients, a linear accelerator which is used for radiation therapy.
"We have very accurate imaging and focusing capabilities," said Dr. Michelle Proper, a Billings Clinic Radiation Oncologist.
Proper moved to Missoula in order to lead the radiation team.
"We're bringing in technology that hasn't previously been in Missoula, one of which is stereotactic body radiation therapy, and it just really allows patients to get cancer care closer to home," said Proper.
Community Medical Center partnered with the Billings Clinic,in order to open the radiation center. They put $8.5 million into it and the money comes from internal funds, donors and debt financing.
"It's a healing environment, but it offers the best in competency and technology," said Steve Carlson, CEO of Community Medical Center.
"This was modeled after the Billings Clinic and larger institutions like the Mayo Clinic as well, in the fact that people are getting together. We're doing tumor boards weekly, talking about patients, making sure that everyone is on board with the plan of care," said Dr. Proper.
They treat cancers of all kinds, like breast cancer and lung cancer. Patients can have anywhere from five to 40 treatments depending on how serious the cancer is.
The center tells NBC Montana they serve 11 patients per day for radiation, and they're hoping to increase that number to 15 patients per day.
They're serving patients from Missoula to as far as Seeley Lake and Hamilton. They hope they can reach to even farther places like Idaho.
Community Medical Center has partnered with the Billings Clinic in the past for certain services. They are also in the process of merging with the Billings Clinic in the near future.
In addition, St. Patrick Hospital and their Cancer Center told NBC Montana that they offer stereotactic body radiation therapy as well.