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Health industry ties put city on the map.

One of the largest manufacturers of radiation oncology equipment in the world has forged ties with the Regional Cancer Centre in Thunder Bay, bringing expertise and possibly new economic infrastructure to the city.

As a result of a strengthening relationship between the Regional Cancer Centre and Siemens Medical Solutions, Thunder Bay is courting the multibillion-dollar company in hopes they will be chosen as the primary location for expanding the Siemens' operation.

Michael Power, vice-president of cancer services for Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and Cancer Care Ontario, affirms that Dr. Ajit Singh, president of oncology care systems for Siemens, visited the city last September. This past February, two senior vice-presidents came to scout the northwestern city at the doctor's behest.

Siemens scouting for opportunities

Siemens representatives are expected to return to the city to consider their opportunities and a group from Thunder Bay will be heading to Concord, California for a third rendezvous.

"We are continuing to dialogue about bigger and better opportunities," Power says, although he did not disclose specifics. A company of this magnitude is keeping their cards very close to their chest, he says but "the opportunities are abound."


Regardless of the city's situation with the company, Power says the relationship between the cancer clinic and Siemens will remain strong, which will in turn expand the radiation program.

"It's an economic development opportunity and it allows us to add more senior clinical staff to do more research and development. What that does is put the cancer centre on the map."

Siemens develops equipment called ONCOR linear accelerators, in other words, it produces external radiation beams. Usually these kinds of machines are purchased every 10 years. However, since the cancer clinic moved into the brand new state-of-the art 69,000-square-foot cancer centre two months ago, they have replaced all of the equipment.

Pioneers in technology deployment

"We are the first in the country to roll out this kind of technology into a cancer centre. We are fourth in North America just behind the UCLA Medical Clinic, and it is state-of-the art equipment."

Regional Cancer Centre will also be the first in the country to form what is called the clinical reference site. They will be working with Siemens to do clinical trials on their equipment. The facility will play host to potential and international customers interested in Siemen's products and results.

In addition to private partnerships, the cancer centre is also making alliances with Lakehead University to fully introduce the Cancer Research Institute. Lakehead is currently doing some cancer research, but would like to do more as a result of the evolution of the medical school and the health sciences' portfolio.

Many of their scientists and doctors are working on frontline genomics and ultra violet light research as it relates to skin cancer. Academics are going to share information with the scientists from the cancer centre to create a synergy for the purpose of advancing projects. This partnership is expected to be announced between now and the end of June.

New developments in the cancer field can only mean better care for cancer patients in the northwest, says Power.

A more streamlined approach to care

In fact, since the facility amalgamated with the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, it has created a more streamlined approach to patient care. In essence, the two health facilities acted as two somewhat separate entities.

Prior to last January, the cancer clinic, like others across the province, acted under the auspices of Cancer Care Ontario, which primarily provided outpatient care. The hospital also had a cancer regime, which included patient surgery or diagnostic imaging or inpatient care. As a result of two facilities in cancer care, there was duplication. There were two health records, two financial systems and two budgeting systems, along with two drug-management processes for each cancer patient. Now that the clinic has physically moved into the health centre, it has created a more fluid process, he says. There is one file for each patient as it relates to cancer regime.

In addition, doctors from the hospitals are now able to work in conjunction with the cancer care specialists, which provides improved quality service for the patients, he adds. For instance, once the report is given to the oncologist, the cancer centre can order a care regimen, whether it would be surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, within 24 hours.

"Historically they would have been waiting weeks or months to get that. We were the first cancer centre in the country to offer diagnostic CAT scan services in our cancer centre."


Northern Ontario Business
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Thunder Bay
Author:Louiseize, Kelly
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:May 1, 2004
Previous Article:$85M power upgrade underway.
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