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AHS apologizes to cancer patient waiting for treatment
Sonia Sunger, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Monday, June 7, 2010 10:14AM MDT
Even though Ann Reynar will continue to wait for chemotherapy at the Cross Cancer Institute to treat her stage four colon cancer; she says she feels a little better now that Alberta Health Services finally apologized for the situation.
Ann's husband Wave Reynar says Alberta Health Services called the couple this weekend apologizing for the fact that she likely won't receive chemotherapy. A staff shortage at the Cross Cancer Institute has left doctors only giving treatment to priority patients and Ann's three month prognosis puts her low on the priority list.
Wave Reynar spoke on behalf of his wife, who was to sick to do an interview, saying their frustration comes not from the fact that the Cross Cancer Institute doesn't have the resources to conduct treatment, but because it took AHS nearly five weeks to tell the couple.
"Why couldn't they have told us five a half weeks ago and then you're able to move on and wrap your head around what's going to happen," said Reynar.
However Alberta MLA Hugh MacDonald says the situation should not be tolerated.
"We are now forcing doctors to pick and choose who received cancer treatment and that's totally wrong," said MacDonald.
The Alberta Liberals believe AHS mismanagement has left to a staffing shortage. They are now calling for the Cancer Board to be re-established.
"We want to see it separated once and for all from AHS because certainly this consolidation hasn't worked out," said MacDonald. "Unfortunately this super board has been a super mistake."
Officials with Alberta Health Services say the situation could get worse. Five out of 20 oncologists in Alberta are expected to retire shortly and only 15 oncologists are trained in Canada every year.
Dr. Tony Field with Alberta Health Serices says this pinch will be felt across North America, not just in Alberta. He says staff will work to connect with patients on the waiting list this week.
"We try to contact these people and give them an idea of what their options are," said Dr. Field.
While Wave Reynar says he was happy to get the call, the situation still leave he and his wife feeling completely alone.
"It's complete abandonment…it's like we don't exist," said Reynar.
AHS says the problem began after an oncologist who specializes in gastrointestinal cancers left their position earlier this year. A replacement has been hired, but doesn't begin until August. In the fall, another oncologist will begin their post at the hospital.
Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky says he is aware of the problem and is working to recruit one or two oncologists to the Cross Cancer Institute in the meantime.
In 2009, 835 new patients were treated for gastrointestinal cancers at the Cross Cancer Institute.