Article originally appeared in the Nanaimo Daily News. Photo by Daily News photographer Aaron Hinks.
Cara McKenna/Nanaimo Daily News
Chemotherapy patients at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s cancer clinic may soon have to travel to Victoria for treatments.
Starting in January, the cancer clinic will be cutting chemotherapy hours and laying off one nurse because of budget restrictions.
The current cancer clinic hours are Monday to Friday, but intravenous chemotherapy will no longer be available on Mondays because only one full-time registered nurse will be on duty, and, according to Island Health, administering the treatment requires at least two.
Cancer clinic volunteer Suzanne Kemp said patients and their families have been upset about the upcoming changes.
“I know just how upset everyone’s been because they’re so busy and patients are going to have to go Victoria,” she said.
“The (nurses in the NRGH) chemotherapy clinic are just excellent. And by the sounds of the patients, the patients love them all.”
She said the Victoria cancer clinic is already busy, as is the clinic in Nanaimo, and if anything hours should be upped, not cut.
“The nurses work very hard and I know one recently said, ‘oh well, I won’t be going home for dinner tonight,'” Kemp said.
“A lot of jobs you could rush through and get it done, but this is something you can’t rush. You can’t even say they should work faster because they can’t.”
Kemp thinks money shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to people’s lives.
According to Island Health, the Nanaimo cancer clinic is funded by the B.C. Cancer Agency, and funding hasn’t changed.
A statement from Island Health said the upcoming change is being made “to ensure that the clinic operates within its annual operating budget.”
“Once implemented, this change may result in some patients having to travel to the cancer clinic in Victoria for IV chemotherapy and we deeply regret the inconvenience to patients,” the statement reads.
Island Health also stressed while one nursing position will be displaced, the individual will be able to choose a different open nursing position at NRGH, as per the collective agreement.
The clinic will continue to be open on Mondays but it will only offer oral chemotherapy and educational services.