Oncology chemo cancer care moving to Huntsville hospital next spring, MAHC board confirms
BRACEBRIDGE/HUNTSVILLE - Primary oncology chemo cancer care in Muskoka is moving to Huntsville next spring, where demand is higher and a division of services for patients in south Muskoka could see more patients from Gravenhurst and Bracebridge referred for treatment in Orillia at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.
The Muskoka move, strongly hinted at since last spring, as part of cost initiatives by the combined Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) hospitals in Bracebridge and Huntsville.
The controvesial move, in which pre- and post-treatment care will still be available at both Bracebridge and Huntsville, is expected to see extended hours in at Huntsville hospital.
In a news release Friday, MAHC said: :With a focus on safe, high-quality, standardized care, and in order to meet Cancer Care Ontario standards around patient safety, Systemic Chemotherapy treatment will be located at the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital (HDMH) Site, targeting an effective date next spring.”
The decision was made at the October board of directors meeting following an independent review and collaboration with the two regional cancer treatment centres that MAHC is engaged with (Sudbury and Barrie).
“The board has considered the Cancer Care Ontario standards for Level 4 Oncology Clinics that apply to health care providers, their roles and necessary education, standards for volumes, quality assurance and safety, and facility requirements,” explains Larry Saunders, MAHC board chair. “In order to meet these standards, the status quo of two chemo clinics is no longer an option”
They release says that by locating Systemic Chemotherapy at one site, MAHC “will achieve safety standards and improved outcomes through focused specialization, positively impact critical volume and clinical competency in delivering this complex, high-risk treatment, eliminate the duplication of costly services and align with regional and provincial priorities,” Saunders says.
As more services come under the province’s new funding reform formula, services that can’t be provided within the funding envelope are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, the hospital says, and creative and innovative solutions, like consolidation, must be considered.
“We have tried to reduce the impact on our communities by locating the chemotherapy clinic where there is a higher number of patients accessing the service, in an effort to address the most proximal need, while still achieving balance between our acute care sites,” Saunders says. “The increase in the number of visits at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital (SMMH) Site in the last fiscal year is a result of the temporary closure of chemotherapy services at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital and given the announcement to re-open the Orillia chemotherapy treatment centre next fall, we do not anticipate increased volumes to continue.”
Ensuring timely access to safe, high-quality cancer care is a top priority for MAHC, adds Natalie Bubela, chief executive officer at MAHC.
“Patients have been receiving excellent, compassionate care at the SMMH site for some time, and I am pleased that we will be able to develop a plan to continue to provide pre- and post-care to our oncology patients in South Muskoka,” says Bubela.
“But if you require Systemic Chemotherapy as part of your treatment, that treatment would be provided at the Huntsville site. In addition, with all Systemic Chemotherapy treatment at one site, we will be looking at the option of extending our hours of operation as an additional service for patients.”
The clinic space at the HDMH Site will require upgrades, enhancements and improvements to meet the latest standards established by Cancer Care Ontario to ensure safe, high quality, and therapeutic care for cancer patients in the MAHC catchment area.
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