It is unacceptable that a cancer patient has to commute by ambulance daily between two Halifax hospitals for treatment, Nova Scotia’s Opposition Progressive Conservatives said Thursday.
The Tories said Millie Johnson was recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects white blood cells, and is a patient at the Dartmouth General Hospital.
But crucial components of her treatment are being carried out at the Victoria General Hospital across the harbour, and no beds are currently available there for Johnson.
Dartmouth East Tory MLA Tim Halman said it is unacceptable that she is being transported by ambulance each day between the two hospitals, roughly a 25-minute drive apart, and that it speaks to wider issues within the province’s health care system.
Halman said he has reached out to Health Minister Randy Delorey multiple times requesting a bed for Johnson at the Victoria General.
“Nova Scotia’s health care system must be more responsive to patients’ needs. The minister has an opportunity to improve Millie’s current situation by taking action now,” said Halman in a statement.
Dr. Drew Bethune, medical director of Nova Scotia’s cancer care program, concedes that transferring patients between facilities is not ideal, but said it is sometimes necessary because of bed availability.
He said transfers take a toll on patients, and he empathizes with the Johnson family.
Bethune added that planning is under way for a new cancer centre, but that project is a “few years away yet.”
“In the meantime, our cancer care team will continue to do all we can to continue providing quality person-centred care,” said Bethune in a statement.
“We would encourage patients or family members to reach out with their concerns through the complaint process, or through patient relations, so that we can be made aware of the issue, and then work with the family to come up with a solution.”