Why Get a Referral to Regional Cancer Care Northwest?
By Graham Strong
“Every patient in Northwestern Ontario who receives a cancer diagnosis should be referred to the cancer centre.”
That’s the bottom line, says Dr. Sunil Gulavita, Head and Coordinator, Radiation Oncology at Regional Cancer Care Northwest (RCC). The cancer centre’s comprehensive approach to “whole patient” care means better outcomes – not to mention better overall support for the patient.
Any patient can ask for a referral to the cancer centre from their family physician, surgeon, nurse practitioner, or other medical professional.
“It’s important that patients are viewed and treated in a holistic way. The Cancer Program offers a wide range of services and supports that address not just their physical needs, but spiritual, psychological, and more,” says Dr. Gulavita. Treating cancer is just one piece of the puzzle.
RCC Northwest offers a wide range of services at every step of the cancer journey from prevention and screening through to post-treatment and palliative care. RCC NW supports a holistic approach to overall care that is reinforced by an interdisciplinary support team that includes a nurse, social worker, dietitian, chaplain, and other healthcare professionals. Patients – and in some cases their families – can be referred for genetic counselling, psycho-social counselling, clinical trials, treatment for side effects, smoking cessation support, the Balancing Life, Intimacy, Sexuality and Survivorship (BLISS) clinic, a multitude of support groups, and other services that can help them through their cancer journey.
Regional patients, who sometimes have to travel hundreds of kilometres for cancer care, can access supports through the Ontario Telemedicine Network that can schedule videoconferencing with oncologists and other members of the support team. In addition, RCC can help patients find online support groups through programs like Cancer Chat Canada.
“It’s the continuity of care that RCC Northwest provides that is the real advantage,” says Dr. Peter McGhee, Director of Medical Physics at RCC. “Patients might not realize that we have services that offer a comprehensive continuum of care beyond the several weeks required for delivery of radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The RCC Northwest team focuses on comprehensive, overall well-being.”
Another huge service RCC provides for regional patients is accommodation at the Tbaytel Tamarack House, a “home away from home” for cancer patients from the region. Located right across from the Regional Cancer Centre, patients are conveniently located within walking distance of all available services. Guests at Tamarack House can share their experiences with other cancer patients, which many patients find is a benefit that cannot be overstated.
Then there’s the quality of care itself. RCC consistently ranks among the top cancer centres in the province, and has some of the lowest wait times for surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
“Over the years, we have performed very well in terms of wait times,” Dr. Gulavita says. “And recent patient satisfaction surveys indicate that an incredible 97% of patients continue to rank our program highly.”
“Cancer is a complex disease that requires personalized and comprehensive care. A patient with a cancer diagnosis should come to the cancer centre to determine the best options for treatment,” says Dr. McGhee. “What you want is our entire team of specialists on your side. That’s what the cancer centre offers.”
For more information about Regional Cancer Care services, or general information about cancer, please call (807) 684-7200 or toll-free at (877) 696-7223.