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Important factors to consider before embarking on a radiation shielding project

Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | October 19, 2020
From the October 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Paul Rochus
“They’ll pick the cheapest contractor even if they don’t have any experience with putting one of these facilities in,” he said. “In the long run, it ends up costing them three times as much because they have to take things down and redo them.”

Most contractors hire the same subcontractors on every project and the shielding company is usually an afterthought because they’re not involved with every project the construction firm handles, according to Bordeman. Consequently, contractors may bring the radiation shielding company on board late in the process.

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Part of the early insight that a shielding expert can bring to the table involves deciding where in the facility to place the equipment. This is a critical decision when it comes to determining the shielding needs moving forward.

“If you have two pieces of equipment and could share a wall, you’re going to save on shielding,” said Bordeman. “If you could use an exterior wall because it has concrete, you can certainly save some cost here too.”

If you were to place that same piece of equipment in the middle of the facility, you’re going to need more shielding, depending on the level of occupancy around the room. With regard to PET/CT, it’s especially critical to consider how patients are going to flow through that whole suite and what shared walls you have.

Robert J. Farrell
“A seemingly simple change from locating the treatment room on the east side of the building to the west side can have significant impact to the shielding and overall cost,” added Robert J. Farrell, CEO of Veritas Medical Solutions

One way to ensure the best layout for the best and most economical site design is to conduct a feasibility study with a team that includes a shielding expert, physicist, oncologist and architect.

“Probe these issues and others as they relate to available space, departmental flow, etc.,” said Farrell. “With these early studies and with accountability, projects can be efficiently and successfully executed.”

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