Two oncologists recruited for Lethbridge
August 1, 2012
Story by James Stevenson, photo by Tara Grindle
Pincher Creek resident Bette Jean Scott knows the benefits of being able to receive cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy closer to home.
The hiring of two new medical oncologists at the Jack Ady Cancer Centre in Lethbridge will enable Alberta Health Services (AHS) to expand its cancer care treatment offerings in order to provide more services to Albertans where they live.
“I've been told by a lot of people I know that I've had a real positive state of mind about having cancer and it would have been way tougher if I'd had to go up to Calgary for treatment,” says Scott.
Dr. Malcolm Brigden, who has been practising in Sault Ste. Marie in northern Ontario, will begin treating southern Alberta cancer patients at the beginning of September as the Medical Director and staff medical oncologist at the Jack Ady Cancer Centre. Dr. Faraj El-Gehani, who’s completing his specialty training at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, will join Dr. Bridgen as a staff medical oncologist.
Medical oncologists are doctors who assist in diagnosing and specialize in treating cancer through the use of chemotherapy and other therapies. They are the main health care provider for patients who receive chemotherapy and work with other cancer health care providers in the cancer centre in managing all aspects of a patients cancer care.
“To have two doctors there, that means we can spell each other off, we can discuss cases with each other – it just makes it so much more exciting and a more fulfilling practice,” says Bridgen.
Dr. Paul Grundy, Senior Vice President of AHS Cancer Care, says recruiting medical oncologists is a challenge right across the country, with only about 15 new Canadian graduates each year.
“The fact that we were able to recruit an accomplished doctor from out of province and retain an individual in whom we have invested many years of training in Alberta is a testament to the collaborative efforts of AHS Cancer Care and the South Zone medical leadership. We’re developing a cancer program in the Lethbridge area that’s able to attract specialists in wide demand. Our patients receive the very best care available while our physicians have a world-class clinical and research environment in which to achieve their potential.”
The Jack Ady Cancer Centre has been without a permanent medical oncologist since March, when Dr. David Holland retired after 23 years of practice. Impact on cancer patients in Lethbridge and the surrounding area has been mitigated by medical oncologists from Edmonton and Calgary who visit Lethbridge every week to help care for patients.
The two new cancer specialists will work collaboratively with radiation oncologists on-site to enable the facility to operate as a comprehensive cancer centre, providing an expanded slate of cancer services, including combined chemo-radiation therapy for certain cancers.
With the opening of the Jack Ady Cancer Centre in 2010, Lethbridge became the first Alberta city outside of Edmonton and Calgary to offer radiation therapy. The Alberta Radiation Therapy Corridor is scheduled to expand further with radiation therapy services planned for new facilities in Red Deer in 2013 and Grande Prairie in 2015.