New medical director of Scripps Radiation Therapy Center focuses on mind, body and spirit
By Kathy Day
As an undergraduate at UCLA, Ray Lin studied psychobiology because it was a little bit neurology, a little bit biology and a little bit psychology.
“It combined the mind, body and spirit,” said the radiation oncologist who is the medical director of the new Scripps Radiation Therapy Center and is still focusing on those three elements of life.
He specialized in radiation oncology for three main reasons, he said in a recent interview:
• “You really get to know your patients. They come in every day for six to seven weeks and you see them every single day,” he said, adding that in other specialties you may see an individual once every six months or even less frequently.
• “It’s so high tech … radiation oncologists love their toys.”
• And, “I love oncology.”
With cancer set to overtake heart disease as the most common cause of death, he said, he wants to be able to help fight “this devastating disease that affects every family in some way.”
After graduating from UCLA, he attended Loyola University of Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine before returning to Southern California where he interned at UCLA and did his residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
That’s where he stayed until 2001 when he moved to Scripps Clinic/Green Hospital. When he followed his boss at Loma Linda, Huan Jiap, M.D., to Scripps, he began work in brachytherapy — placing radiation inside the body — in cardiovascular disease. His specialties include breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
“I’ve always liked things that were a little different,” the cheerful 44-year-old said.
And being responsible for the new Radiation Therapy Center, which unites the radiation oncology services for Scripps Green Hospital and Scripps Memorial La Jolla, is another one of those different things he’s tackled.
Now that it’s open — the first patients were treated in mid-September, with Memorial’s program set to be fully relocated by this week and Scripps Green’s by late November — he’s responsible for its day-to-day operation. In addition, he oversees administration and is a liaison for the staff, physician and administrators. During the planning stages, he had input on design and functionality and with selecting equipment and quality assurance.
“I never knew how to read a blueprint,” Lin said. But since “radiation oncologists think in 3-D terms” and he had a lot of help he made it through, helping out by talking about how patients flowed through the office from check-in to the sizes of the dressing rooms.
The process included weekly meetings over the past two years with representatives from the two programs, including nurses, physicians and the physicists. Through that process, he noted, they selected the best practices and protocols so they could standardize treatments.
Patients also had a say in the design through a series of focus groups that helped the team understand what worked for them and what didn’t.
“We had to get everybody to work together,” he said, noting Scripps Health’s evolution to “one Scripps with specialty centers” throughout the county. “It’s not cost effective to have radiation oncology at every site; it’s more cost effective to have one great [center] than to have three mediocre [centers].”
Located just east of Scripps Clinic/Green Hospital on Torrey Pines Mesa, the $44 million center was set to mark the opening on Oct. 3 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for community leaders, and a community open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 6. The center includes the latest technology, from three new linear accelerators, which will improve precision and shorten treatment times, to a CT simulator with 4-D capability.
Lin said the new equipment is not just more precise and faster — a treatment session for pancreatic cancer has been reduced from 30 minutes to just 3 minutes – but also more comfortable for the patient. In addition, the simulator can adjust for a patient’s breathing and can “choreograph” motion, decreasing the impacts on surrounding organs and potential side effects.
The measures of success, he said, are that they have “capacity and compassion” as healthcare providers; the right technology to provide the best care and a physical environment that promotes healing.
When patients visit the facility, the first impression will be dramatically different from what patients at Scripps Green used to experience as they walked down two flights of stairs or rode the elevator to the basement at the hospital and used dressing rooms that were like small closets.
Now patients, including those just going for re-checks or an appointment that doesn’t involve a radiation treatment, enter a modernist facility with extensive use of glass, allowing for lots of natural light, a rooftop healing garden, a patient resource library and nature-inspired art work. It also has research and physician office space.
He said he hopes the new center is “a place where people going through a dark time in their life will find some comfort.”
While Lin said he loves doing what he does, “my passion is my family.”
And that includes the family dog, traveling, eating good food and being involved with his daughter’s and son’s activities. Lin also likes to run and swim, and he is a UCLA-trivia buff dating back to his days as a campus tour guide when he was an undergrad.
“I love to follow UCLA sports and know all sorts of useless stats,” he said.
His daughter Abby, 7, plays tennis, and his son Noah, 10, who is a student at Diegueño Middle School, swims three days a week and is getting ready to give a triathlon a shot. Noah also plays in a band with several school friends. His proud papa noted that the boys will be playing at the grand opening.
Lin and his wife, Daphne, have known each other since they played together as children, he said. Their parents all came to the U.S. to go to graduate school at the University of Oregon. Lin’s parents had each left China after World War II and moved to Taiwan where they met.
Independently over the years, the couple’s parents moved to San Diego and then to Los Angeles, where both Lin and Daphne attended UCLA – again with no connection. At their parents’ urging they reconnected after “not playing together for 15 years” and renewed their relationship. Now they’ve been married for 13 years.
As he talked about his family and his work, you could hear his dedication and passion come through, along with that sense that he believes in finding balance between mind, body and spirit.
More information can be found at www.scripps.org.
Name: Ray Lin, M.D., Medical Director, Radiation Oncology, Scripps Health (systemwide)
Distinction: Dr. Ray Lin is the medical director of the new $44 million Scripps Radiation Therapy Center, which consolidates Scripps two existing radiation centers.
Family: Wife Daphne; son Noah, 10, daughter Abby, 7
Interests: Travel, gardening, good food, spending time with his family.
Reading (books): “Chronicles of Narnia”
Favorite films: “Shawshank Redemption,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Up”
Favorite getaway: Hawaii, Tahiti, Europe
Scripps Radiation Therapy Center
• 10670 John Jay Hopkins Drive, San Diego, 92121
• Will treat about 1,200 patients a year
• Will serve patients from 23 outpatient centers, five Scripps hospitals
• Three state-of-the-art linear accelerators
• A 16-slice CT simulator with 4-D imaging capability
• More information can be found at www.scripps.org
• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Saturday, Oct. 6
• Guided tours, health screenings, presentations by physicians, health cooking demonstrations
• For the kids: Face painting and balloon art
• More information can be found at www.scripps.org
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