The provincial government announced that it is advancing plans to expand cancer care in Nanaimo.
B.C. Premier David Eby and Minister of Health Adrian Dix were in Nanaimo today, May 26, to announce that concept plans have been approved for a new cancer centre at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
The government says the new cancer centre will come with other hospital upgrades including renovation and expansion of the existing oncology clinic at NRGH to increase the number of treatment spaces and exam rooms.
The new cancer centre is expected to offer radiation therapy, a new PET/CT machine and an outpatient ambulatory care unit, the province noted in a press release. Four shielded treatment rooms will be constructed for high-energy radiation-treatment.
Janice Perrino, Nanaimo Regional Hospital District board acting chairperson and former Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation CEO, said the new centre is much-needed. The foundation had written the province seven years ago asking for a full cancer clinic.
“This is the first of one of the major projects that we were desperate for and we don’t have nearly enough space, so patients are going to Bellingham and many of our chemo patients are going to Victoria,” Perrino told the News Bulletin. “This will help to alleviate that in the coming years and we couldn’t be more thrilled … This will happen, so it’s the best news possible.”
Heather Findlay, B.C. Cancer chief operating officer, said approximately 1,000 people in Nanaimo were diagnosed with cancer over the last year and having a cancer centre in the community will be beneficial.
“A centre in Nanaimo, particularly with the radiation therapy treatment, will provide an opportunity for individuals to seek that care much closer to home…” she told the News Bulletin. “We’ve talked about it in the past – people do make decisions on their treatment based on, sometimes, how far away they are from a cancer centre. So bringing those services as close to home as possible for patients is really a primary focus.”
The government didn’t announce a project budget, saying that will be part of the business-planning phase, which is underway. Dix did say that the intention is to have the centre open in 2027 and said cancer centres of this scope typically cost $200-300 million.