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Cranbrook Health Council plans to open a non-radiation cancer centre in Cranbrook later this year

Roger Walker, Council Chief Executive Officer, said tonight an application is being prepared to receive funding from the Communities Oncology Network of the BC Cancer Agency. A medical internist has already been located and the Centre is targeted to open in 2000.
He said a group of people in Cranbrook has been very active in developing the proposal.
“The result will be some joint programming with the Cancer Centre for the Southern Interior and the BC Cancer Agency to bring a much higher level of cancer capability into our community. It’s something we see as a very significant priority.”
Walker said the draft program proposal has been put together, but still needs a lot of work. Part of that work needs to be input from the various communities around Cranbrook and key stakeholders, including the Canadian Cancer Society, Health Councils and physicians who have been involved.
“One of the very concrete steps that has been taken, which will help our doctors in the East Kootenay deal more effectively from a medical perspective with cancer, is an internist who also is trained as an oncologist who’ll be joining the medical staff of the Cranbrook Regional Hospital this summer. That’s one of the pieces that has really been missing in terms of our ability to mount this kind of program.
“The second piece that has been missing, up to this point, is that most of our nursing staff who are providing the chemotherapy services in hospitals throughout the East Kootenay generally do not have formal training in chemotherapy. That’s a concern for all of us. There are some things that are happening [in training at Kelowna]. We have a couple of people going through that program now from Cranbrook and that will help also upgrade the skill level that we can apply from the nursing end of it.
“Those are just a couple of pieces that are already moving in the proper direction. We’re excited about it. I’m just delighted. It’s evident there is a major investment being made in our part of the province in terms of trying to deal with the oncology issues we’re faced with, and there is a very strong and solid commitment that I’m hearing and continue to hear from CCSI in terms of making this thing work.”

Walker was speaking to a group of 26 health officials, oncologists, medical practitioners and Canadian Cancer Society representatives at the Rocky Mountain Resort and Convention Centre. The meeting, which was sponsored by Janssen-Ortho Inc., was called to update the group on progress being made in establishing the Centre
“Bill [Nelems],” Walker Concluded, “said a few minutes ago that this is his personal number one priority in the next few months-to get an East Kootenay Community Oncology Program up and running. I really appreciate that. “

A background document was distributed at the meeting from BCCA VP Jack Chritchley, head of the Communities Oncology Network. Here is an extract:
Southeastern British Columbia communities within 200 kilometers of the Alberta border and Northeastern communities within 100 kilometers of that border are geographically closer to specialty health care facilities in Alberta and traditionally seek some of their specialty health care in that province. The provinces have always cooperated to enable BC residents to obtain their health care in Alberta when that was in the patient’s best interests. However, for some patients, the care is not always seamless and some areas of concern have been identified.

  • Drug treatment protocols are changing quickly and it is expected there will be differences between the two provincial systems. Access to and funding for chemotherapy can cause confusion if the patient’s prescription fails to correspond to a BC Cancer Agency protocol.
  • In the event of a crisis, the patient’s community physician is sometimes unsure about which cancer consultant or Centre to call. The air ambulance, for example, does not cross provincial boundaries.
  • Administration of chemotherapy in BC is associated with standard policies and risk management instructions that the physician adapts to the community resources. Out of province physicians may not be familiar with these policies or with the community’s ability to manage cancer services.
  • Cancer is much more than just the treatment intervention and Alberta providers are unable to assist BC communities to develop patient, medical, psychosocial support, rehabilitation and palliation services.
  • Because they relate to Alberta for their care and are not seen by a BC Regional Cancer Centre, the needs of these patients or their community physicians are not identified to the BC Cancer Agency.