Health min­is­ter takes first-hand look at Cape Bre­ton Can­cer Cen­tre ex­pan­sion

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRIS SHAN­NON

SYD­NEY — Nova Sco­tia Health Min­is­ter Mau­reen MacDon­ald took her first tour of the Cape Bre­ton Can­cer Cen­tre ex­pan­sion project now un­der­way at the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Hospi­tal, Mon­day.

Fol­low­ing the min­is­ter’s tour, Cape Bre­ton District Health Au­thor­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer John Mal­com said pa­tients will be able to get bet­ter care closer to home when the can­cer cen­tre ex­pan­sion is com­plete and new ra­di­a­tion ther­apy treat­ment equip­ment be­comes op­er­a­tional in July or Au­gust.

The area un­der construction is sec­tioned off from the can­cer cen­tre by large plas­tic di­vid­ing walls. Once in­side, ex­posed con­crete floors and lay­ers of stacked dry­wall fill cor­ners of the oth­er­wise empty space.

“For me, it’s be­ing able to un­der­stand what treat­ment op­tions are avail­able to peo­ple close to home and whether or not we’re able to get them timely ac­cess,” MacDon­ald said when asked why she wanted to tour the fa­cil­ity.

Each day 100 peo­ple rely on the Cape Bre­ton Can­cer Cen­tre for di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment. Last year, there were more than 30,000 pa­tient vis­its.

The $8-mil­lion cen­tre ex­pan­sion will al­low the health au­thor­ity to treat many more pa­tients, more ef­fi­ciently.

“It means a decade of ra­di­a­tion ther­apy se­curely pro­vided. It’s a sec­ond lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tor so we’re go­ing to be able to pro­vide more care to more peo­ple in Cape Bre­ton. It se­cures the fu­ture for the next decade for can­cer care here on the is­land,” Mal­com said.

A lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tor is a ma­chine that pre­cisely tar­gets ra­di­a­tion beams at a can­cer pa­tient’s tu­mour. It will be able to per­form in­ten­sity mod­u­lated ra­di­a­tion ther­apy to be more ac­cu­rate and cause less dam­age to sur­round­ing tis­sue.

The pro­ce­dure is only avail­able in Hal­i­fax at the mo­ment, re­sult­ing in the long­est wait times in the prov­ince. Once the team at the Cape Bre­ton Can­cer Cen­tre is fully trained on the new ma­chine af­ter it ar­rives in April, pa­tients will no longer have to make the four-hour drive to Hal­i­fax.

Can­cer pa­tient David Sned­don said he spoke to MacDon­ald briefly about the im­por­tance of hav­ing a can­cer cen­tre in his com­mu­nity.

“It’s the abil­ity to be able to go home, rest up and re­lax in the com­fort of your own home sur­rounded by your friends and fam­ily. There’s just ab­so­lutely no com­par­i­son,” said Sned­don, a re­tired Cape Bre­ton Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor who was di­ag­nosed with prostate can­cer in Oc­to­ber.

“If you’ve got a prostate and you’re 40-plus, get it checked be­cause I had no symp­toms.”

Us­ing a fi­nan­cial ex­pert to help ex­plain some of the fac­tors work­ing against the three branches, the com­pany said statis­tics show a de­cline in the num­ber of area res­i­dents who are within the 20-30 age range.

The com­pany says peo­ple within that age group are the big­gest spenders be­cuase they of­ten need loans to pur­chase cars and homes.

Hast­ings said to fur­ther in­ves­ti­gate the eco­nomic prospects of keep­ing the branches open, the board has de­cided to put to­gether a work­ing com­mit­tee of fi­nan­cial ex­perts, credit union board mem­bers and cus­tomers. He said the com­pany be­lieves it could cap­ture more busi­ness by hav­ing cus­tomers switch fi­nan­cial ser­vices to their credit union branch.

A study on the op­er­a­tion of East Coast Credit Union is ex­pected to take place over the next 12-18 months.

Steve Wad­den - Cape Bre­ton Post

Health Min­is­ter Mau­reen MacDon­ald, cen­tre, and Deputy Premier Frank Cor­bett, left, speak with John Grant, chief physi­cist with the Cape Bre­ton Can­cer Cen­tre, dur­ing a tour of the can­cer cen­tre ex­pan­sion project at the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Hospi­tal, Mon­day.

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