A provincial investment of $25 million will help cancer patients in Hamilton get access to life-saving treatment.
The funding will help the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre expand its stem cell transplant unit with 15 new beds for in-patients and expanded oncology day services, including 11 more treatment bays and a renovated pharmacy to support the expanded program.
Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly, who made the announcement at Juravinski Hospital on Friday, said it’s part of the Ford government’s $27 billion commitment over a 10-year period to improve hospital infrastructure in the province.
Dr. Ralph Meyer, vice president of oncology and palliative care for Hamilton Health Sciences and regional vice president of Cancer Care Ontario, said this is a significant moment for cancer patients in the region.
“The good news is that transplant is available to many more patients now than it used to be,” said Meyer.
He said the new treatment is known as CAR T-cell therapy and is innovative because it’s safer and much more successful in terms of eliminating blood cancers.
“We think that’s going to be a blockbuster in treatment but it’s highly specialized. … You need centres of excellence that have to have the capacity to address it. So having the 15 beds here is fantastic — having the extra bays and what we call oncology day services is really important.”
Construction of the expansion is already underway, and the plan is that the 15-bed in-patient unit will open between March and May, 2020.
Frank Tousaw was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma known as double-hit lymphoma in 2013. After receiving life-saving stem cell transplant treatment at Juravinski, he is now cancer-free.
He said the new expansion at the Cancer Centre will make a huge difference for cancer patients who rely on similar treatment.
“Especially for leukemia patients, who use donor stem cells,” said Tousaw. “Their stay in hospital is longer and they need to be in isolated units. So for them, they only have a few isolation units here … today. So the expansion of this is great news, especially for donor stem cell recipients.”
Juravinski is one of only three hospitals in Ontario with this kind of treatment, the other two being Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto and the Ottawa Hospital.
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