Windsor to gain PET/CT under new strategy
February 20, 2019
WINDSOR, Ont. – Windsor Regional Hospital announced this month that the province and Cancer Care Ontario will fully fund a new $3.5-million PET/CT scanner. Last year, the province announced it will cover the costs of PET/CT scans, including the renewal and replacement of older machines.
“We were lucky enough as a region, to need a replacement of a PET/CT and the government came forward with Cancer Care Ontario and said you are going to be the first to get a new PET/CT,” Windsor Regional Hospital president and CEO, David Musyj said.
Windsor Regional Hospital intended to bring a new PET/CT scanner to the region previously, but the plans were put on hold due to issues surrounding construction costs.
“There was a private (machine) nearing end of life, having issues keeping up and running 24/7,” said Musyj, meaning patients had to travel for tests. “From this point forward, patients who need access to a PET/CT will be able to stay home and have access to it,” he said.
The new PET/CT scanner and its building are in the midst of construction off-site. When complete, they will be placed in a former garden area at the Cancer Centre at Met Campus. The machine should arrive April 15 and be fully functional and available to patients the first week of May.
Hundreds of people living in the Windsor-Essex area currently have to travel hours out of the region for critical diagnostic tests.
The Windsor-area community already has use of a PET/CT scanner, thanks to the one run by Dr. Kevin Tracey, a nuclear medicine specialist. He has been running his scanner since 2012, though he has also been lobbying for capital funding to replace the machine with a new one.
When that machine would go down, however, and at certain other times, some local patients had to travel to London or Hamilton.
“It’s a great day for Windsor-Essex, it’s a great day for our region,” Musyj said. “At the start we’re going to be seeing some four, five, six hundred patients.
“Projections in the future is definitely 700-plus who will be getting their care here. At home where it belongs, where they deserve to have it so they don’t have to travel.”
At the announcement, photos of the new machine were revealed, showcasing the new technology and the building that will house it. “We’re going to try to make it look as outdoorsy as possible so they’re not looking at four bland walls. And try to make our patients as comfortable as they can be in the new PET/CT,” Musyj said.
PET/CT scans are one of the leading technologies in diagnostic testing, especially for cancer care, as well as for cardiology and neurology.
“It’s not just a still image. It shows the metabolic change over a period of time to see how the disease is advancing,” he said.
Dr. Sindu Kanjeekal (pictured), chief of oncology, emphasized how crucial the scanner technology can be. “It’s very important sometimes for staging regarding surgery. It can be important for response assessment. It can be important for assessing remission and recurrence,” she said.
Dr. Kanjeekal said this past year has been especially tough. “I think every one of us here has had to recommend a patient drive out of city, down the 401, even on a day like today there may be someone on their way to get a PET/CT,” she said. “So it’s wonderful that we can say we have one here in Windsor.
Currently, there are 14 PET/CT scanners at 12 locations in Ontario. But Cancer Care Ontario wants to make such scans more readily available across the province. The new provincial initiative starts in Windsor.
The Windsor equipment will be lowered into place at the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre off Kildare Road as its own self-contained unit and made operational by December. The PET/CT scanner will end up sharing a waiting room with the MRI machine already there.