Cancer centre needs more staff

The new Central Alberta Cancer Centre will need about 30 more workers, including highly sought-after radiation specialists.

The new Central Alberta Cancer Centre will need about 30 more workers, including highly sought-after radiation specialists.

But Alberta Health Services says it has an effective plan to fill the jobs.

“We do have a staffing plan we put in place and used in Lethbridge and it’s been very successful there. I have every anticipation that we will be able to continue on and build on that success when we move to Red Deer,” said Brenda Hubley, project lead on the Radiation Treatment Corridor with Alberta Health Services.

The $60-million centre to be built at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre will expand existing cancer services and provide radiation therapy for the first time in Central Alberta.

It’s part of a provincial strategy to open a corridor of cancer treatment centres across Alberta to improve access. In addition to existing facilities in Calgary and Edmonton, Lethbridge Cancer Centre opened in June and a centre will be built in Grande Prairie.

Red Deer’s new centre, to open in early 2013, will triple the size of the existing cancer centre that has 15 full-time staff.

Hubley said Lethbridge just completed its second round of recruitments and its staff of 40 should all be in place by the end of the year.

The centre is waiting to hear if an employment offer for a second radiation oncologist has been accepted.

Staff at Lethbridge have come from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

The search for two radiation oncologists for Red Deer will begin about a year prior to opening.

Other staff will include a broad range of nursing and clerical employees, radiation therapists, medical physicists and radiation treatment planners.

Once the cancer treatment corridor is complete, the number of Albertans who have to travel 100 km or more for radiation would be reduced to eight per cent from 28.

The two-storey centre in Red Deer, with 54,000-square-foot of space, has plans for three radiation vaults, only two of which would be used initially. There is also space for a fourth vault, if required.

It will also have more treatment and examination rooms, outpatient clinics, a medical day unit and a pharmacy.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com