Northern Health is cutting its IV chemotherapy treatment from Haida Gwaii after struggling to find a consistent pharmacy technician. (Pixabay photo)

Without a technician, this type of cancer treatment is being cut from Haida Gwaii

Patients needing IV chemotherapy will have to travel to Prince Rupert or Terrace as of June 21

Without a highly-trained pharmacy technician on Haida Gwaii, the health authority is being forced to cut one of its cancer treatment services.

As of June 21, patients battling cancer will have to travel off island to receive IV chemotherapy treatment. Northern Health is losing its pharmacy technician, a specialist who mixes up chemotherapy agents, and puts it in the intravenous bags for delivery to the patients.

“Without that function nobody else can do it. There’s no pharmacist who can perform this function, no other person can do this. It’s a highly-trained position and so we are unable to continue as of June 21 because of losing that function,” said Dr. Jaco Fourie, Northern Health’s northwest medical director and medical lead for Northern Health Cancer Care.

This chemotherapy treatment has been available on Haida Gwaii for more than 1o years, Dr. Fourie said.

In the short-term, Northern Health has been trying to keep this service alive by bringing in pharmacy technicians from within the health authority’s jurisdiction, while looking for someone to fill the gap. But despite these attempts, the health authority has decided it has to cut this particular cancer service entirely.

“All other components of the treatment journey continues,” Dr. Fourie said.

Patients will still be able to see their own physician who has been delivering cancer care on the island, and it’s a very “robust service.” When it comes to intravenous infusion, that will have to be done at the nearest hospital offering the service, most likely Prince Rupert or Terrace.

In the past week, Northern Health calculated eight people will be affected by the service cut.

READ MORE: Shortage of chemo-trained nurses forces patients off island

The treatment can take between one and eight hours. People receiving the treatment in another community will have to stay overnight. Travel and accommodation expenses might be covered by the band for Indigenous people, but Dr. Fourie said for people who don’t have funding, it will depend on their personal finances.

Dr. Fourie’s biggest concern is that some patients may not want to travel for the treatment because they’ll be away from their supportive structures, their village and family, and so they may chose to dismiss the treatment or try another form of treatment that isn’t as effective.

“Secondly, of course, we are concerned about people that feel pain and discomfort, or nauseous, or psychologically distressed, having to travel now that adds to that burden,” Dr. Fourie said.

Mayor of Queen Charlotte Chris Olsen, said this will be a huge affect on the residents.

“I work at the high school and two of my colleagues use this so this is vitally important to our community,” Olsen said.

The mayor is considering looking at alternative methods to solve these types of problems and to find solutions with Northern Health.

“I’m hoping to look at things a little different, do a resident attraction strategy to get people aware that this is a beautiful place to live, because I don’t think a lot of people really realize just how wonderful the lifestyle is in the north,” Olsen said.

If the pharmacy technician position is filled, Dr. Fourie said they would have to ensure the service is sustainable for a number of months before they would communicate that the service has been reinstated.

READ MORE: Northern Health dealing with lack of 121 registered nurses


Haida Gwaii Observer
Newsroom 
Send email
Like the Haida Gwaii Observer on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

The election has barely started and it’s already a farce

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

South Cariboo poultry swap hopes to become an annual event

The Cariboo Central Interior Poultry Producers Association held its first Poultry Swap on Sept. 15

BREAKING: Gilbert, Drynock charged with first degree murder of Branton Regner

The accused also face two counts of attempted murder in connection with Rudy Johnson Bridge incident

100 Mile’s Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen is leading the Tour de North

Nielsen is providing support to those riding in the tour

Over $3,500 raised during Terry Fox Run in 100 Mile House

88 people participated in the Terry fox Run this year

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

Most Read