Staffing local chemo program remains a challenge

Haida Gwaii cancer patients may once again need to make costly trips off island due to a shortage of nurses trained in chemotherapy.

Haida Gwaii cancer patients may once again need to make costly trips off island due to a shortage of nurses trained in chemotherapy.

Since 2010, islanders who need chemotherapy have been able get it at Queen Charlotte Hospital.

But local treatments were disrupted in October, forcing patients to Prince Rupert.

If a trained nurse is not found in time, local service could be disrupted again after Dec. 15.

“It’s certainly a priority issue,” says Michael Melia, Northern Health’s administrator of health services for Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert.

“We recognize how important it is for residents to have this service close to home.”

Until this year, Melia said Haida Gwaii was well served by a chemotherapy-trained nurse living in Queen Charlotte. Others were occasionally called in from Terrace and Prince Rupert to help.

But since the long-time nurse had to leave the position, Northern Health has struggled to find a permanent, or even a temporary replacement.

A nurse who was due to fill-in this October had to cancel unexpectedly.

Not only was there no back-up available among Northern Health staff, none of the province-wide nursing agencies had anyone available, either.

“Unfortunately, we hit a situation where we had a number of plans in place, and all of them fell through,” said Melia, noting that other parts of B.C. are facing the same problem.

Part of the trouble is that nurses trained in chemotherapy need to administer the drugs at least 50 times a year to stay certified.

On Haida Gwaii, that sometimes means sending the local nurse off island to keep his or her certification something Northern Health and Queen Charlotte Hospital staff have been willing to arrange.

“We make that happen,” said Melia, noting that Northern Health and local physicians made sure the new Haida Gwaii Hospital has a dedicated space for cancer care. Four doctors on island have undergone extra oncology training to be able to prescribe chemotherapy.

“As a group, the physicians are really committed,” said Melia, and so is Northern Health.

“We’re working hard to make sure we can provide a service that is sustainable for the future.”

 

Just Posted

Rediscovery co-founder Thom Henley returns to Haida Gwaii with new memoir

Henley to speak in Old Massett Thursday night and in Queen Charlotte on Friday

Overnight fire destroys home in Tlell

Tlell firefighters are having a busy year

Crime Stoppers launches across Haida Gwaii

They aren’t the police, and they don’t want to know who you… Continue reading

Queen Charlotte set for first election contest since 2011

Candidates Alan Moore and Devin Rachar to join a friendly debate Thursday night at Junebug Café

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

VIDEO: Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Apology to Canadians persecuted for being gay coming Nov. 28: Trudeau

Thousands were fired from the military, RCMP and public service because of their sexual orientation

LIVE: BC Liberals kick off leadership debate in Nanaimo

Candidates’ forum is at noon at Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Most Read