Shortage of chemo-trained nurses forces patients off island

A temporary lack of nurses trained in chemotherapy is making life harder for Haida Gwaii cancer patients.

A temporary lack of nurses trained in chemotherapy is making life harder for Haida Gwaii cancer patients.

Speaking from Prince Rupert, where he met other islanders getting chemo treatments they had expected on island, Dutes Dutheil said the trips bring extra costs and worries about falling behind schedule.

“I think it’s a real bummer,” he said. “It’s bad enough we’ve got cancer now we’ve got to go and pay more money out of our pocket.”

“And it’s something that was done at last-minute.”

A spokesperson for Northern Health said it was unable to arrange an interview by press time, but would follow-up next week.

Dutheil said it was about a week before his latest chemotherapy treatment that he got a call saying the nurse who was supposed to administer it was unavailable, and it would be two weeks before another one could come.

“I find it a little hard to believe that they can’t find someone they can send here temporarily,” he said.

Dutheil said he and another islanders are eligible for free ferry service for medical treatments, but they still have to pay for hotels and meals while off island.

Given the added expense, Dutheil said he’s concerned some people might forgo chemo altogether.

“We’re just lucky that the weather’s good so we could make it,” he added, noting that he is scheduled to have a dozen chemotherapy drips before getting a CT scan and specialist blood work in Vancouver appointments that had to be booked well in advance.

In fact, when he first received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, Dutheil started chemotherapy in North Vancouver. He only returned home after learning that doctors at the Queen Charlotte hospital had successfully organized a local chemotherapy program.

“It’s not the hospital’s fault,” he said.

“But I think Northern Health should step up to the plate a bit.”

As it happens, Dutheil spoke to the Observer on his 70th birthday.

The owner of the Crystal Cabin gallery and an islands fixture for decades, Dutheil rang in his 70th in Tlell a few days before with a live band, Out of the Blue, some incredible birthday cakes, and friends from all corners of Haida Gwaii.

While a lot of people with cancer shy away from talking about it, Dutheil said he’s been happy to speak out.

“I’ve been trying to make things better for people after me, to get better services for us,” he said.

“It affects the whole islands.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Northern Health to open 30 COVID vaccine clinics for oldest residents, Indigenous seniors

Health authority says it plans to vaccinate nearly 15,000 people in Phase Two

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read