CancerCare Manitoba
News Item

November 25, 2014

Manitoba Government Announces New Winnipeg Cancer Hub To Better Support Patients That May Have Cancer
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Continued Investment in Services to Help Cancer Patients Access Treatment More Quickly: Minister Blady

A new cancer hub in Winnipeg is in the final stages of development and this new initiative will enhance support for patients suspected of having cancer and ensure they are able to access treatment services as quickly as possible, Health Minister Sharon Blady announced today.

"When a person might have cancer, it's crucial they receive the care they need as quickly as possible," said Minister Blady. "Through our IN SIXTY cancer patient journey initiative, we are continuing to support the development and implementation of new initiatives to provide different ways for Manitobans to access health care services."

The minister noted the implementation of a cancer hub in Winnipeg builds on work done to develop community and regional cancer hubs in rural Manitoba, which offer enhanced and better co-ordinated care. Like the rural hubs, the Winnipeg hub will be a virtual clinic that will provide expert advice, psychological support and navigation services to patients, and navigation support for health-care providers to ensure patients are referred quickly and appropriately.

"Through the IN SIXTY initiative, health-care providers across the province are taking action to make improvements at many points along the cancer journey," said Arlene Wilgosh, co-chair of IN SIXTY, and chief executive officer of Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. "Part of the work being done is to improve the experience for patients as they transition between the variety of service providers involved in testing for cancer and patient care. This Winnipeg cancer navigation hub will provide guidance and services to patients as well as their family physicians or nurse practitioners who continue as the primary support for their patients through tests, treatments and appointments with specialists and other health providers."

The hub will also be linked to Winnipeg emergency departments to support diagnosis and treatment for patients without a family doctor. Referrals will be made by health providers in the emergency department when a patient comes in and is suspected of having cancer. The expert staff at the cancer hub will work with health-care providers and patient navigators to co-ordinate quick diagnosis and initial treatment. These patients will then be connected to a family physician through the Family Doctor Finder, an initiative geared to connect Manitobans to doctors and nurse practitioners.

Offices will be staffed by three full-time and one part-time nurse navigators, a psychosocial oncology clinician, two clerical support staff and a family physician with a specialty in oncology.

"Approximately 1,500 Manitobans are diagnosed with cancer in an emergency department every year and some of those patients may not have a family doctor," said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and chief executive officer of CancerCare Manitoba. "Thanks to our partnership, this long-awaited service will provide appropriate expertise for timely diagnosis and emotional support to patients and their families."

Minister Blady noted the announcement comes as the Urgent Cancer Care Clinic at CancerCare Manitoba and the Cancer Helpline mark their first year of operation. During this time, the initiatives have helped more than 3,000 patients with cancer and blood disorders from across the province access care quickly and address symptoms related to their disease and side effects from treatment. The hours at the Urgent Cancer Care Clinic will be expanded in the coming months, the minister said.

Over the past year, the Manitoba government has taken a number of other steps to improve cancer services across the province including:
  • introducing leading-edge technology called liquid-based cytology to improve cervical cancer screening and certain non-gynecological diagnostic testing;
  • adding new cancer drugs to the drug formulary and the Manitoba Home Cancer Drug Program;
  • hiring new front-line staff including eight more pathologists and new cancer testing co-ordinators and technologists;
  • covering 100 per cent of costs for cancer treatment and support drugs with no deductibles for patients at home and in hospital;
  • introducing new testing procedures to help identify patients at a greater risk for inherited colon and other types of cancers that are now in place, including testing for Lynch syndrome, a disorder that significantly increases the risk of developing cancer; and
  • introducing leading-edge robotic technology now being used to prepare chemotherapy drugs quickly and safely at CancerCare Manitoba to improve patient safety.

The new cancer hub is part of the $40-million IN SIXTY initiative, which aims to improve the cancer patient journey by moving patients from suspicion of cancer to treatment in 60 days or less, while ensuring quality compassionate care for patients and family. Minister Blady said over the next year, other initiatives to meet this goal will include:
  • introducing a new cancer patient handbook to help patients track and navigate their treatment;
  • increasing funding so more patients can participate in clinical trials; and
  • taking steps to prevent cancer by prohibiting minors from using tanning beds.

IN SIXTY is a partnership with the Manitoba government, CancerCare Manitoba, Diagnostic Services of Manitoba, Manitoba e-Health, regional health authorities, physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers and other health-care providers.

For more information on the IN SIXTY initiative, visit

More information on Manitoba's Cancer Strategy can be found at

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