Building an environment of healing and hope

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A new era of patient care was unveiled with the recent opening of the Carlo Fidani Peel Regional Cancer Centre and The Ambulatory Care Centre at The Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga.

The $134 million project – which was completed on time and under budget – is a collaborative effort between the Province of Ontario, the Region of Peel, the hospital and its donors. The new ambulatory care centre provides additional space for critical ambulatory care programs such as cardiopulmonary, mental health, rehabilitation, diabetes education and our regional renal dialysis program.

A third of the new building is home to the Peel Regional Cancer Program which will deliver both chemotherapy and radiation treatment for patients in Peel, Halton, Dufferin, Wellington, and Simcoe, as well as regions beyond in some cases. Patients from these communities will receive cancer services at their local hospital, and specialized services such as radiation treatment at the regional centre at CVH.

It is anticipated that between 30,000-35,000 visits will take place as part of the radiation program at the centre on a yearly basis. In the chemotherapy area, the number of systemic oncology visits (chemotherapy, seeing doctor, follow-up, excluding radiation) during first full year of operation will be 50,000 visits compared to 20,000 visits for systemic therapy in previous years.

Credit Valley and Cancer Care Ontario have been partners in the conceptualization, development and building of the Peel Regional Cancer Centre, using the guiding principles of integration, patient-centred care, high quality and value for money.

The theme of the official opening for the cancer centre, held in June, was “Healing and Hope.” That theme was very much a part of the building design in the new 330,000 sq. ft. hospital addition. Looking to create a warm, healing environment, wood was the obvious choice for the tree-like structure of the hospital’s main lobby. The use of other natural elements such as running water, tropical fish, the warmth of fireplaces in the radiation therapy waiting areas, and live foliage serve to complement and enhance the care that is being delivered to all of our patients.

The natural elements combine to reinforce the hospital’s own messages of growth rooted in the community. The vitality represented here is meant to be a source of strength and inspiration for all who pass through.

“When we were developing the design for this building, we asked patients what they would like to see in a facility of this kind,” said Wayne Fyffe, CEO and president of Credit Valley. “They replied, ‘give us a building that will give us hope’ and that’s what we believe we have done, through the use of natural light, wood, warm colours and elements of nature that create a healing environment.”

The hospital believes so strongly in this new building’s design and the positive affect it will have on patients, that it has pursued and received a Change Foundation grant to study the impact of design on the healing process.

The regional cancer centre is being headed up by Dr. Sheldon Fine, regional vice-president, Cancer Care Ontario and chief of oncologyÊat Credit Valley. Dr. Fine has recruited Dr. Leonard Kaizer as medical director systemic therapy, Dr. Tom McGowan as medical director of radiation oncology, and Dr. Donald Jones as medical director of surgical oncology.

A multidisciplinary team of experts operates the regional cancer centre. They work collaboratively with Credit Valley’s partner oncology programs at the GTA west hospitals. These hospitals will continue to provide their existing level of cancer treatment. Until now, patients had to travel considerable distances for radiation therapy and/or specialized cancer surgery which will now be provided closer to home at the regional cancer centre, located at The Credit Valley Hospital site.

The Peel Regional Cancer Centre opens its operation with three functioning radiation treatment suites, each equipped with Varian linear accelerators (or linacs) which are used to perform radiation cancer treatments. The centre has allowed for an expansion to six machines in six suites in the future. A linear accelerator is the device that generates high-energy X-rays and electrons for cancer treatment. The high-energy X-ray beams penetrate directly to the source of the cancer sparing healthy superficial tissues, whereas electrons penetrate only superficially and can destroy healthy tissue. As medical director of radiation oncology Dr. Tom McGowan puts it, “these state-of the art linac machines allowed for increased cure rates and decreased toxicity.”

Unlike treatment suites in other facilities, these suites do not have large vault-like doors that close behind the patient. Each suite has a specially designed passage maze that leads to the treatment area that contains the radiation. This type of design provides a more relaxed and accommodating space for the patient. Based on an eight-hour day; 25-30 patients can be treated per machine/day – session length varies per patient.

The reception and waiting areas are warm and inviting in nature. There are three sky-light lanterns located above this area to allow the maximum of natural light through the area. This fireplace-equipped area provides a quiet refuge for patients while waiting for their radiation treatment. There are several change rooms directly adjacent to the waiting area for patient convenience.

Research is also a part of the Peel regional program. Leading up to the opening of the new cancer centre, Credit Valley was recently recognized by the Ontario Cancer Research Network for the development of its tumor bank – having collected more than 100 samples in a recent four-month span. These samples will be available for research in the hopes of discovering more about the genetics of cancer as we work with partners toward targeted interventions and hopefully a cure!