It’s welcome news that the project to bring a $73 million proton cancer treatment center to Wallingford is back on track. The project is now on schedule to break ground early next year, which is soon, and to start treating patients in 2026. This rebound is taking place after the project fell victim to delays brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic had a way of delaying all sort of projects that were worth waiting for, and to see those projects come back into scheduled expectation is a good sign. The significance of the new center is considerable; the approach uses what the Record-Journal recently described as “highly targeted radiological proton therapy rather than conventional radiation to treat cancer.” Once it’s in operation in Wallingford, the center will be the first of its type in Connecticut and among just a few in the Northeast.
The center is a partnership of Yale New Haven Health, Hartford HealthCare and Proton International. A spokeperson said the three “have invested significantly in acquisition of the land, design and engineering work on the facility. We remain fully committed to the Connecticut Proton Therapy Center.”
COVID-19 has also had an impact on another Yale New Haven Health project in the area, delaying a project to convert the former Macy’s at the Meriden Mall into a medical treatment center. Updates are expected soon, according to R-J reporting, which also highlighted the challenges brought on by the pandemic. The National Institutes of Health says the pandemic “forced hospitals to invest extra resources in training hospital staff on new protocols, securing a large volume of personal protective equipment, and expanding or reconfiguring their medical and intensive care units to accommodate the surge of COVID-19 patients.”
From that perspective, the center’s Wallingford location is an extra boost for the area. “It’s going to be a great addition to the town, the community and the state,” said Joseph Mirra, chairman of the town’s Economic Development Commission.
When the project was still awaiting approval, in early 2020, an R-J editorial noted it would add to an already impressive array of healthcare institutions in Wallingford, including Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, the Masonicare Health Center and four locations for Hartford HealthCare. That the new center is back on track is among reasons to look forward to the new year.