The Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah will name its newest, soon-to-be-built therapy center after retiring Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The U.’s board of trustees unanimously approved the name, meant to honor Hatch for his role in helping to build the institute, and a $10 million donation for the expansion from the Huntsman Cancer Foundation on Tuesday.
Hatch, who’s retiring after 42 years in the Senate, secured some of the initial donations needed to construct the hospital, which opened in 2004. The institute plans to name its Proton Therapy Center after him.
The center will offer a type of radiation treatment that uses thin beams of protons to target cancerous tumors. The idea is to minimize radiation exposure to healthy tissue in the body.
No other facility in the state offers the treatment, meaning patients in Utah have gone to the nearest centers in Arizona, California and Washington to get it, said institute spokeswoman Debby Rogers. That travel can add more to expenses that are already high for most cancer patients.
“Having one here is going to be far more convenient,” Rogers added. “We are, of course, very excited.”
The center is slated to open in fall 2020, according to the institute, and will serve roughly 200 patients each year.
Providing the proton treatment was a major goal for the institute’s late founder Jon M. Huntsman Sr., who invested millions in the hospital. Before he died early this year, he called the therapy “yet another tool we will bring to our patients to give them the best possible outcomes against this dreadful disease.”
Editor’s note: Paul Huntsman, a son of Jon M. Huntsman Sr., is owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune.