Yukoners may go south for chemotherapy

As many as 20 Yukon cancer patients may have to fly to Vancouver to receive chemotherapy treatments starting next week due to the lack of a nurse trained to administer them.

Hospital officials look for temporary nurse to fill staffing gap

As many as 20 cancer patients around the Yukon may have to fly to Vancouver to receive their chemotherapy treatments starting next week due to the lack of a chemotherapy nurse in the territory.

The only nurse in the territory with specialized training to administer chemotherapy drugs was hired on a contract term and has left Yukon for three weeks.

NDP MLA for Riverdale South Jan Stick said her sympathy goes out to patients who may have to go south, and that the Yukon Government needs to find a permanent nurse.  

"I just think we need to move to a more accountable measurable form of health care that puts the patient in the centre," she said.

Jason Bilsky, CEO of the Yukon Hospital Corporation, said there is a shortage of chemotherapy nurses right across Canada. 

"It is a national shortage and there is a very specific skill set that is required," he said. "We did look at a number of scenarios and unfortunately we couldn't get anybody to move up for the short period of time and get released from where they are currently."

Bilsky said the Yukon is looking for a long-term solution but in the short term the hospital will be without chemotherapy services for the next three weeks. He said the contract position will be filled again on Nov. 5.