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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Of Concrete, Radiation Oncology Bunkers and heading into the Holidays!

November 27, 2014

It is shortly before Thanksgiving as I write this blog.  Without a doubt thoughts stray to family and friends back home this time of year but we are very fortunate to have a fine community to enjoy Thanksgiving with this year.
Work on the new Cancer and Chronic Disease Center is moving along very well and we still plan on turning over the main building on February 1, 2015 and our initial tenants are planning on occupying on February 15 , 2015.  Right now our major focus is on the interior finishing and civil works at the main building and the construction of the radiation oncology bunkers in the radiation oncology wing.
Constructing the radiation oncology bunkers is the most significant challenge associated with this new facility.  This is the first set of radiation oncology bunkers in western Kenya and only the 4th set of bunkers in Kenya.  The need cannot be overstated.  Due to a lack of adequate radiation oncology and oncology care opportunities over 65% of treatments currently being provided are palliative.  Bringing this new facility on line will most assuredly provide greater hope to cancer patients.
The “bunkers” are really rather daunting constructs.  The ADR/HDR bunker which will be utilized primarily for the treatment of gynecological cancers has walls that are constructed of 42”  solid concrete and steel.  The roof is also 42” of solid concrete and steel.  That devil cancer has got to be very, very strong to require us to build a bunker with those characteristics to protect the people on the outside.
Our “universal bunker” is being built to house either the initial Cobalt 60 unit or a Linac unit in the future. .....what that basically means is that we are building a bunker that will stop unsafe energy emissions from a Cobalt 60 which emits lower doses of radiation and it will also stop unsafe energy emissions from getting out when a more powerful Linac unit is installed in the future.  The walls on this portion of the facility range from 5’3” thick to 7’3” of solid concrete and steel.   Those are some mighty thick and heavy walls and casting this much concrete at a time takes special precautions.  The form works are powerfully built and supported.  Additionally the cast concrete needs to be kept at a reasonably constant temperature both at the center of the wall and at the outside while curing, otherwise you risk cracking during curing which would be very bad.  In order to achieve these critical goals,  care is taken to select cements, mix design, steel reinforcement,  form works, placement of concrete,  insulation of form works, temperature monitoring with thermocouples and curing times.  Our team has proven to be up to the task in the first set of pours.
As I have noted in the past we do not enjoy the luxury of calling the local Redi Mix company…..but we do have a solid crew of very capable and strong men and women.    We can cast up to 70 cubic meters  in one day (about 8 full ready mix trucks) with the crew running full tilt from shortly after sunrise to early evening.  The batching of sand and gravel are done by hand with measured cubes and the cement comes in bags.  Our casting of the ADR/HDR walls went very well with our temperature differentials being well within the norm and the walls came out looking excellent.
We continue to strive for energy efficiency and reduced operating costs for the facility.  To that end, Frik Lange at Osmond Lange in South Africa and Geoffrey Njihia, our project architect have  been working on a natural  ventilation program for the bunkers.  Frankly,  Eldoret has damn near a perfect climate.  If we are successful in accomplishing this goal these will be the first naturally ventilated radiation bunkers in the world that Frik knows about.  Frik is our IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) consulting architect and a big fan of folk music.  Frik advises that the math is promising….soon to know the final direction!    I turned Frik on to Tim Grimm, Carrie Newcomer and a few others….who knows….perhaps we can one day see Tim, Jan and the band in Cape Town.   
 We were able to work through a natural ventilation scenario with Hewlett Packard for the main data center as well.  We will be ventilating continuously but will not need to condition the air which will help reduce potential operating costs.
Inevitably with construction work there are some headaches.  Our solar program has hit a bump…a pretty big one….but we feel that we have secured an alternate partner in Solar4Africa.  Excellent program where they will actually recoup their investment through energy produced over time.  Our goal remains the 405 kw on the roofs of the building which will generate as much power as the building will need.  I will have to admit pretty big disappointment when it looked like we were going to have to pull the plug on the solar portion of the project.
As we get closer to finishing the building there has been focus put on making the facility as welcoming as possible.  Imani Workshops has created some stunning art pieces based upon the theme of “bringing the beauty of Kenya’s natural environment inside.”   The facility will also be graced by a beautiful sculpture done by Edward Romano that was a gift to the program by Cindy and Steve Chapman.  Many of you may remember that Edward was in Columbus last year for the Arts4AIDS event and then spent time working with Bob Pulley and local Hoosier limestone sculptors and artisans.
Liz and I are empty nesters…..of sorts.  Rather than move when Liam left we opted to stay in this larger house and have had young medical or pharmacy students/Doctors/Residents  staying here as well as Dennis from time to time.  One of the medical students, Nathanael, was from Burkino Faso and is a medical student in France…..he lived with me for 6 months and suffice it to say that we often had a good laugh….all too frequently associated with a sub par meal that one or the other of us prepared.  Before he left Kenya he had gained a wealth of experience and also fallen in love with a young Kenyan woman, Chico.   Liz, a Pharmacy Phd  is living here now and we enjoy her company….and her cooking!  Dennis had a much better last term at school pulling a 375 grade…. a dramatic improvement for him of nearly 50 points, so we are looking forward to a good year to come for him.  He will soon be 14 and is growing to be a fine young man.   We continue to enjoy going to LEWA to see the kids, particularly Julius and Nyaya.  Always a good time playing a few games or going for a long walk to check out the cows, sheep and gardens at the orphanage.  The energy of little kids is simply magical!
 Liz spends her days working with kids and she has also worked diligently to get our new 501C3 organized and on line.  The new firm is called EcoSource Sustainable Initiatives and I invite you to check it out on FaceBook.   We have come to the conclusion that Kenya, and particularly the folks in this part of Kenya, will be a part of our lives even when we are not here. We feel that EcoSource Sustainable Initiatives  will be a means for others to help make a difference in the lives of those seeking a better future.
The holidays will find us traveling a bit more in this beautiful country  and meeting more Kenyans in our 1997 RAV 4.  Packing up the camping gear including a nice blow up mattress that we brought back with us, and our little stove and off we go.  We won’t be roughing it entirely…….we will be on an island off of the coast of Kenya for a few days where we look forward to fulfilling a life’s dream of swimming with dolphins……..some of you may remember  “Flipper”………well, I have never forgotten!
On that note, wishing all of you a wonderful holiday time and know that we will be thinking of you!
Asante sana, Michael


Maiyo checking temperatures on concrete

preparing steel for bunker

shooting grades for civil works

after unpacking sculptures donated by Chapmans
rebar rebar and more rebar

1 comment:

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