Rouge Valley brings children’s cancer care closer to home

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More time. Ask Deb Fraser what Rouge Valley Health System’s new Paediatric Oncology Satellite Clinic will mean to families like hers and she’ll tell you the most important thing will be more time with their children.

“We’ve been to Sick Kids hundreds of times. This clinic will mean families will travel less and stay closer to home for their children’s treatment,” says the Uxbridge resident, a registered nurse with Rouge Valley.

Her six-year-old son Dawson’s numerous “bravery beads” worn around his neck, belie the seriousness of his struggle with stage-four cancer. The beads, given to him from the Hospital for Sick Children for every procedure and test since his diagnosis in 2002, are indeed recognition of his and his family’s bravery for his hard fought remission from neuroblastoma.

The clinic, in partnership with Sick Kids Hospital and the Paediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO), will begin in May, allowing children to receive chemotherapy treatments, blood work, X-rays, CT Scans, medication administration and more on the seventh floor of Rouge Valley’s Centenary hospital in Scarborough, about 40 minutes from Uxbridge and much closer than Sick Kids in downtown Toronto. Among the features of the Paediatric Oncology Clinic are a family lounge, three in-patient rooms and a clinic room.

Julie Goldstein, Rouge’s Program General Manager for Women and Children’s Health, says she’s glad the “long road” of dealing with “tight budgets” and many challenges has resulted in the opening of the community clinic.

Goldstein thanked the clinic’s team for broadening their skills, in partnership with Sick Kids.

Sheri Ferkl, Rouge’s Manager of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Paediatrics says, “We know there is a need for our new clinic and are delighted with our collaboration with Sick Kids and POGO to help patients and parents like Debbie Fraser.”

Yvette Dalrymple, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner with Rouge Valley says, “We are proud to offer this clinic for children and parents, who now won’t necessarily have to take a day off work and school to come for treatment. We’ve had that kind of positive feedback, for example, from parents at our Paediatric Sickle Cell Clinic, which we opened in November.”

The new clinic is part of Rouge’s drive to offer more key services to its many communities including Scarborough, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Uxbridge and others.

Rouge Valley will continue to work closely with the Hospital For Sick Children. When a child or teenager is referred to the Rouge Valley satellite clinic, the Hospital For Sick Children will send the patient’s history and treatment plan to ensure continuity of care.

Ferkl adds, “While the child is at Rouge Valley Centenary, our clinical team will communicate with the contact nurse and oncologist at Sick Kids to keep them informed of the child’s progress and treatments.”

Dr. Mark L. Greenberg, Senior Staff Oncologist with the Hospital for Sick Children, participated in the clinic’s recent opening. Greenberg says, “The Rouge Valley team has done an amazing job in launching this program, and I have no doubt that the program will be a huge success and will be able to serve the eastern Greater Toronto Area and beyond with impeccable care and in the process, make the lives of the children and families much easier.”

He added that the satellite clinic is “about offering families somewhere familiar and comfortable” for their child’s cancer care closer to home.

Rouge Valley Health System consists of five community health sites, including two hospitals – Rouge Valley Centenary, located in east Scarborough, with 366 beds and Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering, located in Ajax, with 144 beds. Together more than 300 general practitioners and 180 specialist physicians provide care for a full range of health issues, from paediatric to geriatric care. Both hospitals have round-the-clock emergency departments.