Friday, January 23, 2009

Vallejo planners OK changes in Touro cancer center

Vallejo planners OK changes in Touro cancer center
By JESSICA A. YORK/Times-Herald staff writer
Posted: 01/23/2009

The Vallejo Planning Commission has given its unanimous approval to tweaks in Touro University's plans for its cancer treatment and research center.

University officials also announced the Mare Island center's likely new treatment technology provider, which is being tapped to step in after last year's withdrawal of medical supplier Siemens.

Bruce Lang, chief executive officer for Touro Mare Island LLC, said the university is finalizing agreements with clinical operator U.C. San Francisco and technology provider Compact Particle Acceleration Corporation (CPAC), which specializes in proton therapy.

The technology is being developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Security Laboratory, officials said.

In using its planned cancer treatment technology, Touro's center will be the world's first carbon treatment center with real-time imaging, Touro officials boasted Wednesday night.

The project changes require City Council approval and includes reducing the size of a parking garage, adding a surface parking lot and breaking the center into two smaller buildings instead of an initially planned 125,000-square-foot building.

The first building, a one-story, 40,000-square-foot building with four treatment rooms, could be opened as early as 2010, according to Lang.

The 85,000-square-foot second building and its attached parking garage would come later, and serve as an "incubator" housing seminars and likely medical conventions to help spread the technology.

Cancer center work is tentatively slated to begin in March, starting with the razing of existing buildings, Lang said.

Construction could follow within four months, and the whole project is expected to take four years to complete, officials said. The center could be treating its first patients up to two years earlier than planned, officials said.

"We're going to be able to deliver this far earlier than if we would have been able to bring the Siemens technology," said Touro Vice President Dick Hassel."

Commissioner Wanda Chihak questioned university officials on why the updated plans showed a reduction in parking spaces. City staff responded that the center's original plans had more parking than necessary.

Chihak and other commissioners also complimented the updated structural design.

• Contact reporter Jessica A. York at 553-6834 or