Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre – From the CEO

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre - TBRHSC - Aerial View Northeast
Aerial View of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

Andrée Robichaud, President and CEO of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Andrée Robichaud, President and CEO of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – Each month Andrée Robichaud, President and CEO of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, is discussing what’s new at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC): the challenges and successes that impact the organization’s operations and patient care.

What is TBRHSC celebrating this month?

It looks like spring is finally making its way to Northwestern Ontario! Along with milder temperatures we’re also celebrating Cancer Awareness.

We recently launched a video featuring Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy’s personal colorectal cancer story. The video is called ‘Early Detection: The Path to a Good Life’, and it serves to educate people, particularly First Nations people, about the importance of cancer screening.

Also, Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, the research arm of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, recently welcomed their newest Clinician Researcher, Dr. Naana Jumah. Dr. Jumah will work collaboratively with TBRRI scientists on various projects, including cervical cancer screening. As the research arm of TBRHSC, TBRRI is contributing to the hospital’s strategic plan, which includes a focus on Aboriginal Health.

What are the challenges?

In many First Nation communities in Ontario, cancer is often not found early enough. We are pleased to work with Chief Beardy to help him share his story and experience to promote the importance of cancer screening in First Nation communities. What’s important about Chief Beardy’s story is that he said that he felt fine. Often, people think of cancer screening as something they should do when they don’t feel well, but screening is for healthy people before they show symptoms of cancer.

Also, a common barrier to completing cancer screening is limited access, but our Screen for Life Coach travels to more than 60 different locations, including First Nation communities, throughout Northwestern Ontario. The Coach offers breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening to eligible women in more convenient locations.

Until October, the Coach will be in the region providing essential cancer screening services to women from more than 35 communities.

How does this impact patients?

Aside from state-of-the-art equipment such as the two new Linear Accelerators at Regional Cancer Care Northwest, patients benefit from dedicated and caring staff.

Staff like Dr. Margaret Anthes, who this past summer was able to see patients in Thunder Bay and the region while she was on holiday with family in southern Ontario. She arranged diagnostic imaging and organized and planned their radiation treatments, thanks to a new electronic medical record system for cancer patients at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

How can the community help?

Last October, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation launched the ambitious Exceptional Cancer Care (ECC) Campaign with a goal of raising $5.9 million to help Regional Cancer Care Northwest become the best centre in the province for exceptional cancer care.

The ECC Campaign will provide funds to support new equipment for exceptional cancer diagnosis, treatment and research. Every donation supports excellence in cancer care for patients here in Northwestern Ontario.
We are already ranked among the top cancer programs in the province. Our Regional Systemic Therapy Program which, for example, supports chemotherapy units in our partner hospitals across Northwestern Ontario, is being modeled around the world as an exceptional cancer care program that provides high-quality, closer-to-home care.

But we still have many challenges in cancer care to overcome. These include geographical barriers, a higher-than-average incidence of cancer, and poor screening rates for some cancers like cervical & colorectal.

So this spring, I encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about the right time for cancer screening. And find out how your donation to the Health Sciences Foundation can contribute to exceptional cancer care in Northwestern Ontario so that we continue to be Healthy Together.