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

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

CancerNorthern Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A BC Hydro outage is affecting nearly 4000 customers in Kitimat. The cause of the outage is under investigation. (Screenshot/BC Hydro Outage Map)
Cable fault responsible for Kitimat power outage, BC Hydro says

At its peak, the BC Hydro power outage affected near 4,000 customers

Graph showing the 2020 passenger totals at the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace. (Submitted/Northwest Regional Airport)
New year brings an end to a turbulent 2020 at Northwest Regional Airport

Passenger totals half of what they were in 2019

Wireless voice and data services are out for those on Telus as of Thursday (Jan. 14) afternoon across Western Canada, Telus Support said in a recent Tweet. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Telus services restored across Western Canada

Telus said they are monitoring the situation to ensure connections remain stable

The leisure pool at the Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be open Thursday and closed Friday for maintenance, the DoK said in an updated Facebook post Thursday (Jan. 14). (Kitimat Leisure Services photo)
UPDATE: Leisure pool at Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre open Thursday, closed Friday

The leisure pool will be closed Friday (Jan. 15) for maintenance due to a mechanical issue

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read