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No interruptions in cancer care

Fire and smoke
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With many communities under evacuation alerts and orders, chemotherapy treatments have been disrupted for dozens of patients. Patients who were moved from their home communities turned up in Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops and the lower mainland, hoping their treatments could start or continue.

“We’ve taken care of anyone who has come in or contacted us,” says Mary Beth Rawling, clinical nurse coordinator, BC Cancer Agency Centre for the North in Prince George.  

The impact on patients who are booked for chemotherapy will continue for a while, as the community oncology clinics rely on the full services of the hospital to deliver treatment. “Some patients will remain out of their home communities longer even when evacuation orders are lifted, to ensure treatment continues.”

“I can’t say enough about Royal Inland Hospital (RIH), says Mary Beth. “They have taken everyone we have sent to them, even with scarce resources and staff on holidays.”

In Kelowna, planning for flooding quickly gave way to accommodating patients being displaced due to the fires. According to Allison Filewich, clinical nurse coordinator at the Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior, planning for both scenarios has highlighted the need to be nimble and creative.

“We have had great support from everyone involved in patient care, right across the region,” she says. "Clinicians have jumped in where they could to complete assessments, write orders, start new treatment or provide follow-up – anything to keep patients on track with their care without interrupting treatments."

“We’ve been reminded of the important role our community clinics play,” says Allison. “They work very hard to keep cancer patients closer to home.  We have one patient who was facing six hours a day of driving to have her treatment. Thanks to RIH staff, she now can have her treatments closer to home. This region is so vast and travel isn’t always easy.”

Both Mary Beth and Allison agree that an overwhelming situation has been made easier by a true team effort of the emergency response teams from IH, PHSA and NHA. These new relationships will better support patient care when things start to return to normal in the weeks ahead.

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BC Cancer Agency; cancer; cancer treatment; treatment
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