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Making cancer care more convenient to local patients


TRURO – A new program introduced in the spring will help local cancer patients make fewer trips to Halifax for care.

The Colchester East Hants Health Authority launched a General Practitioner Oncologist program in March with Dr. Don Rowe, a general practitioner for the health authority, taking on the oncologist role. In this position, Dr. Rowe will collaborate with Halifax-based oncologists and family practitioners to provide care for cancer patients through the Chemotherapy Clinic at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre.

This includes co-signing orders for oncologists and general practitioners, assessing patients prior to chemotherapy treatments and helping to manage issues that may arise with chemotherapy treatment.

“The biggest advantage of the GPO program for patients is a decrease in the frequency of trips to Halifax and the ability to receive care close to home,” said Dr. Rowe in a press release.

Prior to the beginning of this program, cancer patients would have had to travel to Halifax on a regular basis for assessments before starting each cycle of chemotherapy. Fatigue is often a side effect experienced by patients undergoing treatments, and higher levels of fatigue can make travel more onerous.

“It is a huge step for our Oncology Clinic to provide this service to our patients keeping the goal of care closer to home in the fore front,” said Cancer Patient Navigator Darlene Holmes.

Dr. Rowe sees patients in the Chemotherapy Clinic on Friday mornings. He is also available on an on-call basis should a patient contact the patient care navigator or Chemotherapy Clinic with an issue. Patients can be referred to Dr. Rowe by their oncologist.

Family physicians still remain the primary coordinator of a patient’s care, and in the event of a serious emergency, patients should present to the nearest emergency department or call 911 immediately.

“The General Practitioner Oncologist position was not developed to replace a family physician or oncologist,” said Dr. Rowe. “The position supports patients, family physicians and oncologists in their battle against cancer.”

 

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