The Dr. Douglas A. MacIntosh Cancer Clinic at Belleville General Hospital has seen a substantial increase in patients, year-after-year. With approximately 11,000 patient visits per year and an average annual increase in chemotherapy treatments of nearly 13 per cent, the clinic is bustling, to say the least.
The unfortunate reality is that cancer care will remain an integral part of our health care system for the foreseeable future. In Ontario, new cancer cases are predicted to increase by 25.4% over the next 10 years.
The staff and physicians of the Cancer Clinic have been endeavouring to utilize the original clinic space on Hastings 3 at Belleville General Hospital (BGH) as efficiently as possible, but the program has outgrown the space. “To be able to continue providing high-quality cancer care close to home, we need to ensure that oncology patients, staff and physicians have sufficient space for treatment and other aspects of their cancer care needs,” said Kristina Cruess, Program Director.
When the pandemic began, the Hastings 3 Main Entrance, which is located right next to the Cancer Clinic, closed. All BGH patients, visitors and staff were required to use other designated entrances. Because this main entrance lobby was no longer being utilized, the Cancer Clinic was able to use the lobby as a patient waiting area, which has helped significantly with patient flow.
The Hastings 3 Main Entrance continues to be closed, with all patients and visitors using the other three available entrances at BGH. This has been working well for 30 months. To continue accommodating the needs of the Cancer Clinic and its patient population, the Hastings 3 entrance will reopen as a dedicated entrance for the Dr. Douglas A. MacIntosh Cancer Clinic. This entrance will be utilized by Cancer Clinic patients and oncology staff only, operating 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.
The Charlotte Sills Entrance will become the official Main Entrance of Belleville General Hospital, with official signage changing in the fall. Because this has served as the main entrance for 30 months, this transition is expected to be smooth for patients, visitors and staff.
“Most other health centres across Ontario also have a dedicated entrance for their oncology patients,” said Anke Gilmour, Manager of Oncology. “This is best practice and will help to protect vulnerable, immunocompromised oncology patients as they wait in the lobby (now a waiting area) for care. We wouldn’t want hundreds of other patients, visitors and staff walking through this waiting area each day unnecessarily.”
Patient Registration, which was located beside the Hastings 3 main lobby has temporarily been moved to Quinte 3 and will be moved to a new permanent location in the near future. The former Patient Registration office on Hastings 3 will serve as a dedicated oncology registration space, oncology lab and interprofessional oncology team work area for pharmacy, physicians and clerical staff.
“Some oncology patients come weekly for blood work and having a satellite lab adjacent to the Cancer Clinic provides quick, easy access eliminating the need for oncology patients to walk throughout the hospital in their immunocompromised condition,” said Anke.
The BGH Auxiliary Gift Shop, which was located beside the Hastings 3 main lobby has been consolidated with the BGH Auxiliary Tuck Shop on Quinte 3. The former gift shop space has been transformed into an oncology treatment space.
“We are thrilled that we are able to make these changes to enhance cancer care for residents in our communities,” said Kristina. “Increasing the clinic space and creating a dedicated oncology entrance will have a big impact on patient and staff experience. Fighting cancer is hard enough. These simple changes will make things a little bit easier.”
An exact date for the opening of the Cancer Clinic Entrance will be announced in the weeks ahead as signage timelines are determined.
There continue to be three other points of entry for non-oncology patients and visitors – Sills entrance (open 6am-10pm, 7 days/week), WCA entrance (open 6am-6pm, Mon-Fri), and the Emergency entrance (open 27/7).