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

K-J Millar/The Northern View
8 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Health Authority

Since Nov. 27, there have been 191 new cases reported in NHA

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

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

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read