A Canadian first: New chemotherapy robot in Barrie

Cancer patients throughout Simcoe Muskoka will soon benefit from increased patient safety and quality as Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in Barrie brings state-of-the-art robotic technology to its Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre.

RVH is the first hospital in the country to install the Robotic Intravenous Automation System, better known as RIVA.  The system, installed in late summer, will be used for the preparation of chemotherapy medication and is currently being installed in the satellite pharmacy located in the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre, part of RVH’s Phase 1 Expansion Project.  Installation and preliminary testing will continue for the remainder of July, allowing time for staff training and final testing prior to the opening of the cancer centre in the spring of  2012.

“RIVA, with its robotic arm, is truly an exciting piece of equipment that can better serve patients and enhance safety for pharmacy staff,” says Judy Chong, director of Pharmaceutical Services, RVH. “The RIVA unit will ensure each of the very complex and patient-specific chemotherapy doses are prepared safely and accurately in a sterile, automated environment.”

There are currently over 10,000 patient visits to RVH’s chemotherapy suite every year and that number is expected to increase by 30 per cent in the first two years of operation. The RIVA unit has the capacity to prepare up to 100 chemotherapy doses every hour, saving considerable staff time and repetitive, manual processes.

“RVH is well-prepared to treat very complex cancer diseases and the addition of state of the art technologies such as RIVA, is an example of how the hospital is equipping the new cancer centre to be as safe and efficient as possible,” says Janice Skot, RVH president and CEO.. “RVH has made great strides in expanding cancer serves and preparing for the opening of the cancer centre. The hospital has implemented a computerized system for safer chemotherapy ordering practices. We have also hired four new medical oncologists and many clinical support staff to deal with the increasing incidence of cancer.”

The Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre will be the only cancer centre between Newmarket and Sudbury and will provide comprehensive cancer care for patients throughout Simcoe County and Muskoka.  It will log over 65,000 visits in its first year alone.

RVH’s Phase 1 Expansion will double the size of the existing hospital, and will add capacity for 165 new beds, including the region’s only dedicated Coronary Care Unit, triple the size of the Emergency Department, significantly expand the Imaging Department and add two more high tech operating suites.