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Wednesday June 22nd, 2016

Posted at 4:54pm

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Precision Diagnostic Imaging PET/CT Centre, the operator of Windsor and the Erie St. Clair LHIN’s only PET/CT cancer scanner, is suspending operations Tuesday after they say they were informed by the provincial Ministry of Health that it will not assist in urgent repairs to the equipment required. They also say that the Ministry said it will not provide the same level of funding it gives to Sudbury for similar PET/CT services making it financially impossible to operate in Windsor.

Approximately 500 cancer patients received PET/CT scans last year at the independent health facility which has been in operation in Windsor since August 2011. Positron Emission Tomography scanning, or PET/CT scanning, is a vital diagnostic tool in the investigation and treatment planning of most cancer patients.

The centre operates on a base funding amount of $300,000 per year. Last month, the Ministry of Health announced funding for a similar new centre in Sudbury, Ontario, with approximately the same population base and patients per year. That centre will receive funding of $1.6 million dollars per year to operate.

Local oncologists, cancer surgeons and lung physicians have indicated that losing this service will seriously jeopardize the care of many patients with cancer in the local community.

“I am concerned to hear about all the difficulties Dr. Tracey is having providing PET scan services for patients in Windsor, Essex and the Erie-St. Clair LHIN. It has been a great benefit having our patients serviced here. The radiologists and staff at Precision Diagnostic Imaging have provided a much needed service and arranged for our patients to go elsewhere when the scanner was not functional, which is above and beyond their mandate,” said Michael Coughlin, Thoracic Surgery. “PET scans are essential in the workup and staging of lung and oesophageal cancer patients. A PET scan is mandated by Cancer Care Ontario before cancer surgery is performed and often before treatment through the Cancer Clinic. A delay in the PET scan delays all the decisions that need to be undertaken subsequently in the patient’s cancer journey.”

Patients whose scans have already been requested are being redirected to other centres as far away as Ottawa, but with substantial wait times of up to six weeks. This has resulted in further delaying many patients who had already been waiting over a month for a scan and hence delaying access to lifesaving surgery and /or therapy.

The centre is no longer able to accept bookings for patients because of the current situation. “We are grateful to our patients, our staff, our referring physicians and our community who have been supportive and continue to be supportive of our service over these past five years,” said Dr. Kevin P. Tracey. “We stand ready to work with our community and with the Minister of Health should he choose to assist us at any time in resuming this vital service. “

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