CONCORD — Radiation oncology treatment rooms can be stark, scary, bare and clinical. Enter Emerson’s new “gift of light” from Chris and Margaret Karpinsky and Nancy Burdine, Margaret’s mother. They have donated a ceiling mural above the linear accelerator in the radiation oncology treatment room at Emerson Hospital’s Bethke Cancer Center.
The mural, installed by Delphi Construction, transports patients to a peaceful, outdoor setting with flowering trees, clouds and a blue sky.
The treatment room is a place Margaret knows well. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her treatment included surgery and radiation therapy at Emerson.
“The care I received from the staff was exemplary,” she said. “They couldn’t have been more kind or compassionate. My treatment sessions were quick and painless, but being alone in a large room under a big machine was very frightening.”
Chris said he observed first-hand the effect the treatment room had on his wife.
“It really pulled at my heart when, after the first treatment, my wife came out of the room in tears,” he said.
Chris set to work envisioning a way to improve the treatment experience. He imagined some form of illuminated artwork and described it to Jack Dresser, vice president for development and community services, and Glenn Smith, vice president for clinical and administrative services. They then presented the idea to the Radiation Oncology Department.
Jacqueline Palazola, RTT, senior radiation therapist, suggested a simulated skylight.
Chris searched for the best supplier, then developed a proposal.
“Everyone at Emerson was supportive of the project, and with a tape measure in hand I began the engineering phase and detailed design,” said Chris. “Working closely with the devoted people at Delphi Construction, we were able to work through technical difficulties and modify the facility to accommodate the skylight. Delphi donated all their services to the cause, and they’re equally responsible for this gift. With coordination by Lori Noonan, manager of cancer services, all went according to plan, and the end result far exceeded our imagination.
“Not only is there a beautiful object for patients to center their attention on, but there’s also a wonderful, warm, blue glow to the room, which is very soothing,” he said Chris. “This is especially striking when you first enter the room.”
“Patients react very positively to this new focal point in the treatment room,” said Dr. John McGrath, medical director of the Emerson Hospital-Massachusetts General Hospital Radiation Oncology Program.
“It is gorgeous,” said Margaret. “I am thrilled to know that it’s enhanced the treatment experience for patients.”