New chemotherapy unit at Thompson General Hospital officially opened

The Thompson General Hospital’s new chemotherapy treatment unit was officially opened by Northern Regional Health Authority CEO Helga Bryant and invited guests May3.

“I’m really pleased to have been able to invite you here for this long-awaited opening of the chemotherapy unit in the Thompson General Hospital,” said Bryant, noting that the process of getting to this point began before the NOR-MAN Regional Health Authority and Burntwood Regional Health Authority were amalgamated. “It’s been through a few planning iterations and a few funding iterations. I would also like to thank the government of Manitoba for their generous support in funding the renovations to this unit. I would also like to particularly thank the dedicated citizens, the past and current patients, and families who passionately advocated in order that we could now have this beautiful unit to serve patients and families long into the future, offering hope and support long into their cancer journeys.”

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Thompson MLA Kelly Bindle remembered three of those past patients as driving forces behind the efforts to develop the new chemo unit.

“This unit was a long time coming,” said Bindle. “It was initiated originally by chemo patients and led by Scott Newell, followed by Shelley Carey and Trevor Lowe and many others, and it was a process of lobbying the government initiated about 12 years ago and it’s seen a lot of campaign promises, a lot of news announcements and a lot of funding delays. Unfortunately, Scott Newell, Trevor Lowe, Shelley Carey, they won’t get to see the results of their tireless caring and selfless commitment to this cause but we’re all grateful to them for doing it. Today not only do we celebrate the opening of the new chemotherapy unit. Along with that opening, we celebrate them.”

Thompson’s deputy mayor Kathy Valentino said the unit will also benefit the region.

“It’s all for the region and  for our neighbouring communities also that will use this facility,” said Valentino. “I believe that it’s important that we remember those that fought this fight and those that have lost this fight to cancer and I personally believe that they are here today, are seeing the opening of this and their efforts, it absolutely goes without saying, we needed them for sure.”

The new chemo unit offers greater privacy, safety and comfort for patients, said Laverne Sturtevant, executive director for clinical services in Thompson and area, and their input was vital in designing the new facility.

“Although our old unit is just a few feet away it’s been quite a transition from the old to the new with new space and new technology and new equipment,” she said. “We’ve actually done what we call streamlined processes. We’ve tested, we’ve trialed, we’ve done all sorts of work around how to be efficient in this new unit. We’ve had really good input from our patients who spend four or five hours in the chairs so I want to acknowledge and say thank you to all of them.”

The opening ceremony concluded with the cutting of the ribbon on the new chemo unit by Bindle, Bryant and elder Jack Robinson, who blessed the facility.

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