Dr. Eric Hoskins
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announces an investment in new inpatient and outpatient units at the Princess Margaret to increase access for patients in need of stem cell transplants. (Photo: UHN)

Ontario's Ministry of Health is investing in new inpatient and outpatient units at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and London Health Sciences Centre to increase access for patients who need stem cell transplants.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announced the investment at the Princess Margaret.

The funding will enable the cancer centre to add 15 new beds. It will also provide new treatment space for outpatients and support up to eight more stem cell therapy physicians.

"With this new funding, we are helping hospitals provide life-saving stem cell treatment closer to home. The government's investment in the two new units will reduce wait times and improve care for Ontarians who need stem cell transplants," Dr. Hoskins said at Thursday's announcement.

In the last year, 428 stem cell transplants were performed at the Princess Margaret.

Stem cell transplantation is an essential component of treatment for some people with lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma and other blood disorders. Bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells help patients recover from high-dose chemotherapy treatment, with or without radiation, by helping blood cells to regrow.

Sherar, Hillier, Hoskins, Pisters and Amit
(L to R): Dr. Michael Sherar, CEO, Cancer Care Ontario; Frances Hillier, patient advocate, Minister’s Stem Cell Consultation Group; Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care; Dr. Peter Pisters, President & CEO, University Health Network; Dr. Amit Oza, Head, Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. (Photo: UHN)

The announcement comes after a year's worth of recommendations put forth by the Minister's Stem Cell Consultation Group, which includes clinical experts, hospital leaders, and patient and family advocates. The group formed to address the growing need for stem cell transplants in the province and to find ways to improve access for patients.

"Today's announcement by Minister Hoskins is critical to the future of cancer care and our ability to serve the needs of leukemia patients in the future," said Dr. Peter Pisters, President and CEO, University Health Network.

"Coupled with the government's investment at Sunnybrook Health Sciences, this will allow Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Sunnybrook to serve all leukemia patients who need an allogeneic bone marrow transplant.  It will also ensure the Greater Toronto Area has sufficient capacity to make bone marrow transplants available close to home."

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