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REPORTING · 21st June 2010
Walter McFarlane
The Kitimat Health Advocacy Group met on Saturday, June 12th at 9:30 in the morning at the Chalet. The room was packed with people interested in the health and stability of Kitimat’s General Hospital. One of the major themes of the meeting was the chemotherapy. This meeting was also their AGM.

”I have submitted a report to the BC Cancer Care Agency and Northern Health to address the recommendations of BC Cancer Agency Core. There has been some response to that which has been positive,” said Jonathon Cooper, Site Administrator of Kitimat General Hospital.

”I’m expecting complete reintroduction of the service certainly by late summer, early fall. It is likely that we will be starting the oral Chemotherapy initially first, even over the summer time. Certainly because that’s the easiest to facilitate nursing wise.”

Cooper explained there were still some issues which needed to be resolved, such as the nursing capacity regionally between Kitimat and Terrace. He said they would be looking at reorganizing the program to resolve this.

”On the whole, it is positive news. Kitimat is still going to have Chemotherapy,” concluded Cooper.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff, who was attending the meeting, wanted to know what the issue was. Cooper explained it had to do with nursing vacations and how the position is facilitated while the nurse is away. The Chemotherapy Nurse is a specialized position and this situation has been a problem since the chemo services began in Kitimat.

Councillor Rob Goffinet, who was chairing this meeting inquired about Oral Chemotherapy and Intravenous Chemotherapy and when they could begin. Cooper replied Oral Chemotherapy could begin as soon as the end of June. Intravenous Chemotherapy still requires final approval from the BC Cancer Care Agency but it should go ahead.

Feldhoff requested a comparison between the number of patients who receive chemo orally vs. the number who take it intravenously. Cooper explained it depended on the patients although traditionally, there were fewer people taking oral chemo.

The Kitimat Health Advocacy Group expressed their commitment to have Chemotherapy returned to Kitimat by the end of summer. Cooper said this was a collaborative effort between stakeholders in ecology at a both a local and regional level.

”We’ve done a good job with what we have and the main picture is to maintain the service here,” said Cooper.

He added the report was available through Northern Health Communications. It can be found on the web here.