The Northwest Territories Health Authority says the closure of its chemotherapy unit at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife this week was a “proactive” measure.
On Tuesday, the health authority announced it was suspending the chemotherapy program after an outside review found staff needed more training and some policies need review.
Thirty patients are affected by the suspension and will now be sent to Edmonton for chemotherapy.
Health officials say the authority invited CancerControl Alberta to review the N.W.T.’s cancer program. The organization sent eight specialists to conduct the review last month.
“This particular review was not done in reaction to anything,” said Dr. Shireen Mansouri, a medical director for the health authority. “There was no event that triggered it.
“This has been a proactive review based on looking at the cancer strategy and wanting to improve.”
Mansouri says that when Stanton’s chemotherapy program was reviewed, considerable improvement was found to be needed.
“There were enough recommendations within the chemotherapy program that we thought it would be better for patient care to temporarily suspend the program,” she said.
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The review found Stanton’s staff needed more training on new types of chemotherapy treatment. It also found issues with how patient information is shared between doctors in Yellowknife and oncologists in Alberta.
When first diagnosed, many N.W.T cancer patients are sent to Edmonton to meet with oncologists who set out treatment plans. Some forms of treatment, including radiation, are not performed in the N.W.T., but patients are often sent back to Yellowknife for chemotherapy. The review found there wasn’t an efficient system in place for sharing patient information between the two jurisdictions.
Mansouri says the Health Authority decided to temporary close the unit to allow time for improvements to be made.
“It offers us a little bit of…