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HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut’s two largest health systems are joining forces to build a $72 million proton therapy center in Wallingford for cancer patients.

Hartford Healthcare and Yale New Haven Health System announced Wednesday that they will build a 25,000 square foot proton beam therapy center. Proton beam therapy is a highly advanced form of radiation treatment for cancer.

The highly targeted radiological treatment uses protons rather than X-rays to treat cancer, and is only available at a handful of locations in the Northeast – none of them in Connecticut.

Proton International (PI) was hired as the project manager and operator for the proposed proton facility.

“Yale New Haven Health is proud and excited to bring this highly innovative technology to patients in Connecticut,” Richard D’Aquila, president of Yale New Haven Health and Yale New Haven Hospital, said. “Our unique collaboration with HHC will allow us to care for patients with cancer in a new and effective way by bringing a life-changing therapy to our state.”

Hartford HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey A. Flaks added that the development is “a historic moment for cancer care in Connecticut.”

The chief advantage of proton therapy over other types of radiotherapy is that the dose is more finely controlled, according to a press release. With proton beam, there is less entry, exit, and scattered radiation so that physicians can safely deliver higher doses of radiation to tumors with fewer side effects.

The Wallingford center would include the latest technology and equipment; treatment room; control room; exam rooms and clinical space. Employees will include physicians and clinical staff from YNHH and HHC, as well as additional new staff.

“We are very proud to host this innovative partnership between Hartford HealthCare and Yale New Haven Health,” Wallingford Mayor William Dickinson said. “It’s so exciting that we will have cancer treatment of this caliber so easily accessible, right here in Wallingford. Not having to drive out of state to get proton therapy treatment will be such a blessing to so many people.”