Staffing shortages means some Quebec cancer patients will need to travel for treatment this summer

·2 min read
Four of the six radiation oncologists at the cancer center at the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Lévis, Qc., are currently absent. (Guillaume Croteau-Langevin/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Four of the six radiation oncologists at the cancer center at the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Lévis, Qc., are currently absent. (Guillaume Croteau-Langevin/Radio-Canada - image credit)

As many as 25 cancer patients will have to be turned away from hospital on Quebec City's south shore every week, as the region struggles with staffing shortages this summer.

Four of the six radiation oncologists at the cancer center at the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Lévis, Qc., are currently absent, according to information obtained by Radio-Canada.

The health authority that oversees the hospital, the CISSS for the Chaudière-Appalaches region, said the issue was caused by employees going on sick leave.

Caroline Fortin, the assistant director of oncology at the Hôtel-Dieu, said the centre needed to adapt if it wanted to maintain a standard of care for its patients.

The priority, she said, is making sure all their patients are being seen, even if it's not at their usual clinic.

The cancer centre in CHU-Q, a Quebec City hospital network, would have been the ideal place to transfer them — but due to a recent move, they would not be able to accommodate all the patients, Fortin explained.

Instead, the centre will refer patients to clinics further afield that offer radiotherapy, including centres in Rimouski, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières and the Eastern Townships. About four to 25 patients will be rerouted to those centres every week.

"Every effort will be made to limit the impact on clients and the distances to be traveled, but transfers between regions are required given the situation," said a spokesperson for the CISSS for the Chaudière-Appalaches region.

All transportation and housing costs will be covered by the CISSS, it said.

The CISSS specified in a statement that the patients impacted are those who are in consultations to begin their treatments, not those currently undergoing radiation.

Laura Masucci, the president of the radiation oncologists association of Quebec, also known as the FMSQ, said doctors from Montreal will be lending a hand by traveling to Lévis.

"We're hoping to limit, as much as possible, patients having to travel," she said.

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