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NEWS RELEASE · 4th April 2010
Northern Health
Planning underway to re-develop Kitimat Cancer Care Services

Northern Health and Terrace and Kitimat staff and physicians involved in Cancer Care will work together to redevelop plans for cancer services in Kitimat, 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, at the request of Northern Health, 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.

“Following a productive meeting with physicians and staff, the consensus is that challenges identified through the BC Cancer Agency review can be addressed”, said Dr. Ronald Chapman, Executive Director Northern Cancer Program. “This will require development of a plan that ensures a sustainable continuum of care that will provide high quality, safe and accessible cancer treatment and support.”

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. While plans for services in Kitimat are redeveloped, chemotherapy services will continue to be provided through Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace.

The Northern Cancer Control Strategy is a more than $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.