CBC Nova Scotia News: Nova Scotia's busiest lab moving to accommodate demand for chemotherapy

Cancer therapy preparation lab

'We will be able to treat more patients, we'll be able to prepare more treatments, more therapies'

Originally published on cbc.ca.

The Nova Scotia government is moving and expanding its busiest medical lab to try and keep up with a growing number of patients who require chemotherapy treatment. 

"With the added space we will be able to get the drugs to the patients in the right time, even as our volumes increase," said Brian Butt, the senior director with the QEII New Generation project with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. 

The New Generation project is a multi-year plan that looks at moving services out of the aging buildings on the Victoria General site to prepare for its eventual closure.

Butt said Nova Scotians are living longer, but as they age they develop diseases such as cancer, and that's partially why there's an increased need for chemotherapy treatments.

The Halifax-based lab will move from the Victoria building to the Dickson building on the VG site. The two buildings are both located between South Street and University Avenue and are only a few dozen metres apart. 

Butt said the change in location will make a big difference. 

"We will be able to treat more patients, we'll be able to prepare more treatments, more therapies, it will improve and add to our quality control mechanisms to make sure we are preparing and providing the best possible care to patients."     

Bigger space with better equipment

Butt said the Dickson building will provide more room to work and will have new equipment to help meet patients' needs. 

Right now the lab produces about 100 to 120 doses of chemotherapy a day, but Butt said that will increase significantly in the new building. He estimated the expanded lab might be able to produce up to 175 doses a day.    

The move to the new building is costing $4.6 million and the QEII Foundation is contributing an additional $2 million towards equipment for the lab, according to a government news release.

Part of that equipment will be new fume hoods, which are ventilated enclosures where staff can safely mix together chemotherapy drugs, and a new automated system that will help track orders for medications, said Butt.  

The move to the new building will start in the spring and is expected to take more than a year to complete. Butt said the move will not cause any interruption in service while it takes place, and no one will be left waiting to get their medications.