Care Close to Home

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Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) wants to provide cancer care as close to where patients live as is safely and sustainably possible.


Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey and Provincial Cancer Program Senior Medical Director Dr. Drew Bethune, together with Cancer Program Senior Director Margaret Ann Morrison and others from NSHA and the Department of Health and Wellness, met with staff and community stakeholders in Yarmouth on Wednesday (January 30th) to share the Yarmouth Area Cancer Services Review report, recommendations and next steps.

Over the last year-and-a-half, a Steering Committee of cancer health professionals, cancer program leadership, Western

Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) wants to provide cancer care as close to where patients live as is safely and sustainably possible.


Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey and Provincial Cancer Program Senior Medical Director Dr. Drew Bethune, together with Cancer Program Senior Director Margaret Ann Morrison and others from NSHA and the Department of Health and Wellness, met with staff and community stakeholders in Yarmouth on Wednesday (January 30th) to share the Yarmouth Area Cancer Services Review report, recommendations and next steps.

Over the last year-and-a-half, a Steering Committee of cancer health professionals, cancer program leadership, Western Zone patients/public and administrators from Yarmouth and Halifax guided a thorough review, with a focus on patient and community engagement.

The review looked at the feasibility and sustainability of adding radiation therapy services in Yarmouth, and also considered other supports to improve access to care for patients when they need to travel for specialty treatment.

Working groups gathered information including:

  • Patient and community input (through meetings, focus groups, and surveys)
  • Cancer statistics to understand the number of patients who would benefit from having radiation therapy services available in Yarmouth
  • Information from other provinces
  • Cost estimates to design and build appropriate space and purchase and maintain equipment
  • Size, makeup, and budget of the clinical team that would be needed
  • Other cancer priorities and needs across the province

The information above was shared and discussed during a day-long deliberative engagement session in Yarmouth on June 13, 2018. Fifteen participants, who were chosen to include all perspectives, including patients and community representatives from Yarmouth, voted 12-2 (one non-voting participant) in favour of developing a bundle of services and supports to ease the burden of travel for patients instead of building and operating a radiation therapy service in Yarmouth.

The Steering Committee endorsed this recommendation and recommended developing joint NSHA/DHW a working group with patient and public representatives from the Yarmouth area to consider what those enhancements could look like.

The full report can be viewed here.

https://www.nshealth.ca/yarmouthcancerreview

We will continue to provide available updates and engage you in this important work going forward.

Thank you.

  • Enhancing Access to Cancer Care for Yarmouth Area -Yarmouth Community Update: July 2020

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    Enhancing Access to Cancer Care for Yarmouth Area

    • Yarmouth Community Update: July 2020


    This is the fourth in a series of updates on Nova Scotia Health (NSH) Cancer Care Program’s work to enhance access to cancer care for Yarmouth area residents. The last issue was shared in November 2019. If you missed it, you can read it here.

    Our work on this project was temporarily suspended between March and June as all health care efforts were focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our efforts to ensure continued treatment and care for cancer patients throughout the COVID pandemic, enabled us to introduce expedited measures throughout the province, including Yarmouth, that are already improving access to care. The details are outlined below.

    In the last update

    The last update provided a summary of the progress being made by the three working groups: Transportation and Travel Burden; Service Delivery and Communication and Engagement. This included an update from the Department of Radiation Oncology on their progress to shorten the length of treatment time for certain cancers, which ultimately means fewer days away from home for patients and fewer travel days.


    Highlights since November 2019

    Thanks to the flexibility, creativity, and hard work from teams both within the Cancer Care Program and Nova Scotia Health in general, together with increased funding from government, we have:

    • increased General Practitioner Oncologist (GPO) resources in many areas of the province, including in Western Zone; Yarmouth now has a .8 GPO and Bridgewater has a .5 GPO at present; we hoping to acquire an additional 0.5 FTE in early 2021
    • increased the use of Virtual Care (telephone and video appointments). Between the middle of March and June, all radiation and medical oncology consultations and follow-up appointments for Yarmouth area patients occurred through Virtual Care. Some in-person appointments are now occurring again with oncologists traveling from Halifax for monthly clinics. While Virtual Care does not replace the need for some in-person appointments, patients and providers who have used Virtual Care have had positive things to say.
    • introduced hypo-fractionation radiation (fewer treatments; higher doses) for patients with many different kinds of cancer who need radiation therapy; this means the duration of treatment for many patients (and thus time away from home) is much less. With hypo-fractionation, patients with certain kinds of breast cancer, for example, can receive their full course of radiation therapy in 5 days instead of 15-20 days. Another example is that the majority of patients with bone metastases can receive a consultation, simulation and treatment all in one day, instead of having multiple visits booked at the cancer centre and a series of 5-10 treatments. More work is also underway on to further expand the Rapid Response Program.


    We are pleased that in addressing the challenges presented by COVID-19, we have improved access to cancer care in safe, patient-centred and efficient ways. Going forward, we plan to evaluate, learn from, and continue with the ‘made during COVID’ solutions that have permanent value.

    We know we have more work to do to enhance access to care for Yarmouth area residents. We have restarted this work and are building on that which is already in progress.


    Next Step:

    • Finalizing the business case, for each recommendation (based on data), with a request for new resources needed to submit to government for consideration


    Next issue

    We will keep you posted on our progress. The next Community Update will be available in Fall 2020.


  • Summer 2019 Project Update Now Available

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    08 August, 2019

    Summer 2019 Project Update

  • NEW May 23, 2019: Seeking Patient Advisors to join working groups. Poster is in the Documents folder.

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    23 May, 2019

    Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) knows that traveling long distances for specialty cancer services is difficult for patient and their families.

    Would you like to join a working group that is looking at enhancing access to cancer services in the Yarmouth area?

    The three working groups that are seeking patient involvement are:

    • Service Delivery Model (coordination, transitions in care, telehealth, psychosocial supports, etc.)
    • Transportation and Travel Burden
    • Communications and Engagement

    If you have first-hand knowledge of the cancer system, your advice and perspective is important to help NSHA make patient-centred decisions.

    Do you

    •  Live in the Yarmouth area?
    •  Have a personal experience with the cancer system?
    •  Have a willingness to work with others in a collaborative setting?
    •  Have the time to attend meetings at Yarmouth Regional Hospital during business hours?

    Are you 18 years or older?

    To apply, please call or email Leslie Hill, Coordinator Engagement, Diversity and Vulnerable Populations by June 7, 2019 toll-free at 1-866-599-2267 or leslie.hill@nshealth.ca

    Please note this is a volunteer opportunity. You will need to sign and comply with the NSHA confidentiality requirements, have a criminal record check and have a general orientation.


  • Spring 2019 Update: Enhancing Access to Cancer Care for Yarmouth

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    22 May, 2019

    You can find this PDF update in the document library.

  • CANCER CARE REVIEW: No radiation unit for Yarmouth, but changes aim to reduce stress on patients

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    31 January, 2019

    Published January 30, 2019

    Publication: Yarmouth County Vanguard

  • CBC News: Yarmouth meeting to consider creation of long-awaited radiation unit

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    29 June, 2018

    Posted online June 13, 2018

  • TriCountyVanguard Article: June 13 cancer care review engagement session in Yarmouth

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    29 June, 2018

    Published June 13, 2018

  • Hants Journal news article : Health minister says review will assess merits and feasibility of providing cancer radiation services in Yarmouth

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    03 May, 2018

    THis is a link to a Hants Journal Article Published: Sep 01, 2017 at midnight
    Updated: Oct 02, 2017 at 10:52 a.m.



  • Annapolis County Spectator: news article Town to seek support from other western N.S. municipal units for cancer radiation services in Yarmouth

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    03 May, 2018

    This is a link to an Annapolis County Spectator news article Published: Jul 17, 2017; Updated: Sep 30, 2017 at 7:19 a.m


  • CJLS-Yarmouth/Y95.5FM- Yarmouth Hospital Foundation Supports Radiation Unit

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    03 May, 2018

    This is a link to CJLS-Yarmouth story from Friday, June 30, 2017 21:09 PM