The North Coast Health Improvement Society accepts $3,574 from Tim Horton’s to upgrade Prince Rupert’s cancer care unit. Left to right: Christine Komadina, Shivam Tandon, Stefan Delloch and Rick McChesney. (Submitted)

$200,000 upgrade needed for Prince Rupert’s cancer care unit

North Coast Health Improvement Society is fundraising to renovate the life-saving facility

Last year, approximately 800 people were treated in Prince Rupert Regional Hospital’s cancer care unit — and the hospital expects an average 10 per cent increase in cancer patients every year.

The problem is there are only three chairs for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

“It’s quite congested to fit everything in,” said Stefan Delloch, the president of the North Coast Health Improvement Society (NCHIS). “There are times when families can’t be with loved ones while they’re receiving treatment — which, of course, is not an easy situation to be going through that you’ve got cancer and you’re receiving treatment and then to be in a chair for multiple hours and not be able to accommodate your family. So by expanding the space, they’re looking to make it feasible for family members to attend and support patients during treatment.”

READ MORE: 20 per cent nursing shortage reported in Prince Rupert

The North Coast Health Improvement Society, a non-profit run by volunteers, has helped raise funds for Prince Rupert’s portable X-ray machine and the bone mass density unit as well as other equipment. Now, the society has set their sights on their next fundraising initiative: the cancer care unit. A recent assessment found they’ll need to raise approximately $200,000 for the renovations and to add three new chairs for chemotherapy treatment.

Based on the growth rates of the last few years, Delloch said the hospital is concerned the current facility won’t be able to help the number of people that will need it. The comfort of patients is another reason the upgrade is needed.

“One of the main reasons why it’s so important is that all leading research shows the ability to reduce the amount of stress of the patient helps with their healing and their recovery,” Delloch said. “Of course, having to travel puts a tremendous amount of stress on people during health crisis. With that in mind, living in a small town, one of the North Coast Health Improvement Society’s biggest aims is trying to find ways to reduce travel for people who live in this area. By future-proofing the facility for increased demand that’ll help in a big way.”

At this point, it’s a matter of raising awareness and funds for the project. Recently, NCHIS received $6,574 in donations from Tim Horton’s and Bell Media.

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate based on demographics, gender, ethnicity, age, etc. It impacts all walks of life. We’re really passionate about this project and we believe the community will really rally behind it,” Delloch said.

“I think this project will also resonate with people in Prince Rupert because people here are — and rightfully so — always concerned about increased travel demands and regional hubs for health services and what that means for a small town. The province is very reliant on and will continue to be reliant on rural hospitals to provide chemotherapy and cancer treatments, and that’s something that’s going to continue in the future, so we have to be prepared.”

Donations are welcome, and Delloch said the society is also looking for volunteers to help run different fundraisers they’ll be hosting throughout 2018. The society can be reached by emailing nchis@outlook.com.

READ and WATCH MORE: Rupert’s new ultrasound means less travel for medical services



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

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