Haida Gwaii Cancer Patients will have to travel for treatment

The Canadian Press

The departure of a pharmacy technician from Haida Gwaii means the nearest intravenous chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients is in Prince Rupert.

Doctor Jaco Fourie of Northern Health says it has been unsuccessful in recruiting a new specialist to mix the drugs despite offering "substantial incentives" and trying other solutions.

He says Haida Gwaii is not alone in facing a staffing shortage.

"Unfortunately closures are inherent in delivering complicated chemo-cancer care in smaller communities and more remote communities because of a continuous scarcity of human resources -- and it's a constant challenge for us; Haida Gwaii's not unique in that sense -- we've had closures in other parts of Northern Health as well," he explained.   

[PHOTO:   Dr Jaco Fourie  --- CFTK]

Fourie says the situation raises questions about the long-term sustainability of providing care to isolated communities especially as new, more efficient treatments are also often more complex to deliver.

But he says Northern Health is committed to meeting those challenges head-on and in the meantime, is adjusting things like dosage plans for existing patients to minimize their travel.


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