Cancer care, and patient care for pregnant mothers and babies,will improve thanks to millions of dollars in new supportannounced today, Nov. 14, by the Nova Scotia government. Premier John Hamm committed $1.3 million to the IWK Health Centreand $5.8 million to Capital Health toward getting Nova Scotianstests, treatment and care faster. “Giving doctors, nurses, and other health professionals theequipment they need is a critical part of our plan to reduce waitlists,” said Premier Hamm. “The new pieces will allow our healthprofessionals to do more, and will improve their ability to treatpatients.” The IWK will benefit from new diagnostic ultrasound and X-rayequipment. Capital Health will receive funding for new equipmentto treat cancer patients, along with new surgical imagingequipment, to be located at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. The new equipment will be paid for from the $15 million availablethis year from the federal contribution to Nova Scotia for new orreplacement diagnostic medical equipment. Capital Health’s new system will allow for precise tailoring ofradiation doses, and will reduce waiting times by accommodatingan additional 500 patients per year. Capital Health will alsoreceive an image-guided surgery system, which will usecomputerized integration of medical imaging to plan and carry outprecise, complex surgeries at a greater rate — between 150 and200 more than the previous equipment, per year. “The new equipment will improve access to radiation therapyservices to patients of Nova Scotia,” said Capital Health CEO DonFord. “The replacement simulator is new technology which willprovide greater flexibility and increased efficiency in treatmentplanning. The additional high-energy linear accelerator willincrease our capacity to provide more timely access to radiationtherapy for our patients.” For health-care professionals and patients at the IWK, the newultrasound equipment will improve picture quality, and allow fora more detailed diagnosis. The new equipment will perform morethan 12,000 exams a year on mothers and babies. “The IWK is always looking for new ways to reduce wait times andprovide quality care to our patients,” said Dr. Alex Gillis,president and CEO of the IWK Health Centre. “This new equipmentwill give our staff the tools they need to provide more timelydiagnoses to the women and children we serve.” Halifax-area hospitals and nursing homes will also receive$185,000 to purchase equipment such as patient lifts and specialtubs that will provide added comfort to patients and easeworkload for nurses. Funding will also be provided to expand atechnology network that will allow for the digital transfer of X-rays, CAT scans and other diagnostic images among hospitalsacross the province. This technology, called picture archivingcommunications system (PACS), will mean better informationsharing and faster diagnosis. Increasing access to MRIs is another important part of theprovince’s wait list plan. Consultation is now getting underwayto determine the best use of existing MRIs, as well as whereadditional MRIs may be needed. The consultations will alsodetermine what kind of MRIs work best and how the greatest numberof patients can access them. This work will guide spendingdecisions for medical equipment funding in the next two years. In February 2003, the First Ministers’ Accord on Health CareRenewal was released. The accord included a commitment for NovaScotia of $45 million over three years — $15 million each year,beginning in 2003-04 — for diagnostic medical equipment. The district health authorities will announce next week theallocation of the remaining funding for this year.