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NEWS RELEASE · 4th April 2010
Northern Health
Northern Health reviewing recommendations on Kitimat oncology services

Northern Health is reviewing the recommendations of a recent BC Cancer Agency review of oncology services in the northwest region to ensure that cancer patients in the region receive sustainable, quality services.

The BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) recently completed a Systemic Therapy Review on Kitimat oncology services, focusing on the administration of chemotherapy services. The review was launched by the BCCA to assess and compare the Kitimat services in relation to the Northern Cancer Control Strategy programs in place throughout the North. Since December 2009, Kitimat residents requiring chemotherapy have accessed the service at Mills Memorial Hospital in nearby Terrace following the temporary closure of the Kitimat oncology clinic due to staffing challenges.

The BCCA review identified challenges in maintaining the specialized staffing that is required for chemotherapy administration, as well as challenges for those clinicians in maintaining their skills and the quality and safety of the service given the low volume of patients. The report also highlighted the availability of chemotherapy services in Terrace, and the availability of new technology including tele-health and tele-pharmacy that currently support Kitimat residents who are receiving cancer treatment.

"Northern Health is committed to the implementation of the Northern Cancer Control Strategy" says Dr. Ronald Chapman, Executive Director Northern Cancer Program. "We are working with each region, each community, on a sustainable continuum of care that will provide high quality, safe and accessible cancer treatment and support."

The Northern Cancer Control Strategy is a $100 million dollar provincial investment and an ongoing partnership between the BC Cancer Agency, Northern Health, and the Provincial Health Services Authority. The initiative aims to ensure quality and further development of the following cancer services: prevention, screening, diagnostic services, treatment, supportive and palliative care. The strategy also includes the construction of the first cancer centre in the north located in Prince George.

Northern Health will be discussing the BCCA report with community physicians and stakeholders before making any decisions on the future of oncology services in Kitimat. NH is committed to providing support services as part of a continuum of care that will include access to dietitians, social workers and resources.

Chemotherapy is a highly-specialized service and is just one of the programs provided along the continuum of cancer care.