HELENA – After three years of construction and more than $7 million spent, St. Peter’s Health has completed the remodeling of its radiation oncology unit.

According to Radiation Oncologist Dr. Andrew Cupino, the new unit is at least 10 times the size of the previous one.

The building has expansive hallways, new patient exam rooms that are bigger than before and private waiting areas. The idea is to make patients as comfortable as possible in what can be one of the most stressful situations in life.

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“It’s a huge change from the day when it was a two square foot area where everybody’s paths crossed constantly all day long,” Dr. Cupino said.

Cancer Treatment Center Director Kari Parmer said the staff was highly involved in decorating and designing the new unit to be welcoming and bright.

“Nobody stands in line and hopes they get the diagnosis of cancer, so to be able to come into an environment that’s not doom and gloom and sad… I think for the most part patients do come in here and are surprised that we do uplifting things and we try and bring joy into their life because it’s no fun to get to be here,” Parmer said.

Beyond the aesthetics, there’s another big addition. A TrueBeam linear accelerator was installed last Spring and is one of only a few in the state. The accelerator can target cancerous cells with stunning accuracy.

“It gives us a way to really target radiation to really, really small volumes safely as well as now deliver faster treatments to patients who don’t need such focused therapies and still need some of the more standard radiation treatments,” Dr. Cupino.

With the exception of a few head and neck cancers, the machine can treat just about any other type of cancer.

“When you want to get the national standard of care, you don’t have to travel somewhere else. You can stay at home,” Dr. Cupino said.