Oncology unit opens

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Cancer patients on the South Shore of Nova Scotia are benefiting from a new and expanded Oncology Unit at South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater.

South Shore Health, which serves Lunenburg and Queens Counties, officially opened the new Unit as part of an ongoing effort to enhance cancer care services in the District. Funded by the hospital’s Auxiliary, the new Oncology Unit will better serve the growing number of patients accessing chemotherapy services by providing a more comfortable and private area for patients.

“Unfortunately, the need for this service continues to grow along with the incidence of cancer. As a result, we’ve outgrown our home in the Ambulatory Care Centre,” says Nurse Manager Sheila Fielding. “We welcome the additional space in our new Unit, which will allow us to better meet the growing demand for services in the District.”

The South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary pledged $180,000 to relocate and expand the Oncology unit, which features a satellite pharmacy for preparation of drugs used in chemotherapy. The addition of a satellite pharmacy will eliminate the need to transport these cytotoxic drugs, which are extremely powerful and dangerous, between departments. It also presents an opportunity for cancer patients to receive an unprecedented level of pharmacy involvement in education and treatment.

“This brings South Shore Regional to a gold standard for preparation and administration of Chemotherapy medications. It is truly a welcome addition to the Oncology Unit,” says the Unit’s Medical Director Dr. Anthony Atkinson. “We are extremely grateful that the Auxiliary has chosen to support this project, which will ultimately benefit thousands of cancer patients on the South Shore.”

The Auxiliary’s support for the new Oncology Unit was part of a half million dollar commitment to South Shore Regional Hospital. The Auxiliary also pledged $320,000 in equipment for South Shore Regional Hospital.

“Behind every single dollar donated by the Auxiliary, there are large numbers of volunteers, thousands of hours of hard work and a community willing to support the Auxiliary’s lead. Our community is fortunate to have this group of dedicated volunteers,” says South Shore Health’s CEO Kevin McNamara.

“Our Members recognized that this project would enable a number of positive changes that would benefit patients. Drugs used for cancer patients will be more safely prepared in the satellite pharmacy, patients will have easier access to the Cancer Patient Navigator located nearby and there will be a private consulting room available to patients, family and medical staff. Most importantly, patients will continue to be cared for in a warm, inviting area where they can support each other as they receive comfort, healing and hope,” says outgoing Auxiliary president Joy Bird. “To see all of this come together in one area is extremely rewarding for our membership and we are pleased to be working with South Shore Health to improve the care and comfort of patients.”

South Shore Health marked the official opening of the new Unit with an Open House. Located on the third floor of the hospital, the new unit features a dedicated resource room, which will double as a private meeting area for patients and health care providers. South Shore Health’s Patient Navigator is also located in the newly renovated wing. The Patient Navigator helps ensure cancer patients and their families have the information, knowledge and support they need as they make their way through the complex cancer care system.

Staff members say the new Unit will provide a more spacious, comfortable, pleasant and private area for a growing number of patients and ultimately, allow the District to increase the range of Oncology Services available locally. Committed to developing a more comprehensive Oncology program, staff members continue to enhance their knowledge and skills in the field. Currently staff nurses Charlene Demone, Lisa Sampson and Colleen Cameron-Mosher are completing an intensive, six-month Distance Education Course in oncology from the University of Alberta.