Small hospitals run out of isotopes this week

Smaller hospitals across the country will run out of medical isotopes this week, leaving many cancer and heart patients scrambling to find alternatives.

OTTAWA — Smaller hospitals across the country will run out of medical isotopes this week, leaving many cancer and heart patients scrambling to find alternatives.

The sobering news comes amid demands that Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt resign for calling the isotope shortage a “sexy” issue.

The head of the Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine says smaller hospitals have been told they won’t receive isotope shipments from nuclear reactors in the Netherlands and South Africa on Thursday and Friday.

“There is a marked reduction in availability of medical isotopes this Thursday and Friday, where the shipments that we were hoping would be coming in from South Africa and the Netherlands will not be arriving,” Dr. Christopher O’Brien said.

“For some of our smaller hospitals, there will be absolutely no medical isotope availability Thursday and Friday of this week.”

O’Brien says that means some patients booked on those days for diagnostic scans to detect cancer and heart ailments may have to be rescheduled.

Uncertainty about hospitals getting their isotopes over the weekend and into next week has left doctors and patients in limbo, he added.

“This will be across Canada. And it’ll be a patchwork effect as well,” O’Brien said.

“Some centres will be a little better off than others. We tend to see the rural centres are the ones that are impacted significantly moreso than the urban centres that can pool their medical isotopes more effectively based on the geography that they’re in.”

This week’s shortage comes as Raitt is being buffeted by indiscretions caught on tape.

In a tape of a private conversation between Raitt and an aide, the minister calls the isotope issue “sexy.”

Raitt also fended off calls for her resignation last week after the same aide left behind secret government documents about Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. at a television studio.

An extended isotope shortage could further scorch Raitt.

Last week, the minister said progress has been made in global discussions to pick up the slack left by the shutdown of an aging reactor at Chalk River, Ont. She credited “Canadian leadership” for the progress.

Raitt said a reactor in the Netherlands has agreed to increase its supply of medical isotopes by at least 50 per cent, and a South African reactor is also ramping up production.

And, she said, an Australian reactor is now expected to come online “much quicker than they had expected.”

Just Posted

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Red Deer officials will allow Calgary to trial alcohol in parks

The result could determine if local rules are relaxed

Red Deer city council could provide more clarity around closed-door meetings, says review

Confidential matters were found to be handled appropriately by city

Special lift improves Lacombe patients’ therapy

A new mobility lift is helping physical therapy patients at Lacombe Hospital… Continue reading

Red Deer group is pushing to create a local ‘international village’ to promote unity

A city made up of immigrants has no place for intolerance, say group members

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Canadian tattoo artist inks Toronto skyline on Blue Jays pitcher Stroman

Marcus Stroman found a way to show his appreciation for Toronto when… Continue reading

Most Read