Radiation oncology treatment rooms can be stark, scary, bare and clinical. But, the donation of a Sky Factory Luminous SkyCeiling by Chris and Margaret Karpinsky and Nancy Burdine, Margaret's mother, changed all that for the linear accelerator treatment room at Emerson Hospital's Bethke Cancer Center in Concord, Massachusetts.
Margaret Karpinsky knows that room 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," said Margaret. "They could not 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 Karpinsky observed the effect that 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. He set to work envisioning a way to improve the treatment experience. Jacqueline Palazola, RTT, senior radiation therapist, suggested a simulated skylight.
"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, who donated their services, we were able to work through technical difficulties and modify the facility to accommodate the Sky Factory Luminous SkyCeiling."
Today, the room is transformed. "Not only is there a beautiful object for patients to center their attention on, but there is also a wonderful, warm-blue glow to the room, which is very soothing," said Chris.
"The Luminous SkyCeiling relaxes patients and makes a sometimes frightening environment more welcoming," added Dr. John McGrath, medical director of the Emerson Hospital-Massachusetts General Hospital Radiation Oncology Program.
For one former patient, this is exactly why she wanted the skylight installed. "It is gorgeous," said Margaret. "I am thrilled to know that it has enhanced the treatment experience for patients."