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Cancer charity struggles in wake of pandemic

A charity dedicated to fighting cancer is struggling to make ends meet in the wake of Covid-19.

The Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre has launched an appeal to raise $200,000 as it faces increased costs and a loss of revenue.

A spokeswoman said: “With the negative impact Covid-19 is having on fundraising efforts such as our Relay For Life event, 2020 will be a challenging year.

“Relay traditionally raises $700,000 annually. However, current trends estimate this will drop by 65 per cent this year.

“These funds are critical in the charity's effort to provide residents with equal access to cancer care.”

The spokeswoman said the charity subsidised more than $2 million last year in clinical services for those with limited or no health insurance so they could have access to early cancer detection and radiation treatment.

But the cancer screening service had to be suspended during the shelter-in-place period.

The spokeswoman said that changes were made to ensure patients who required radiation treatment would not be disadvantaged, but the suspension of screening services caused a loss of revenue.

Lynn Woolridge, CEO of the charity, said: “We needed to make sure all mitigating steps were in place. Suspending screening services enabled radiation treatment to continue while the centre's teams planned the way forward.”

All services have now been reinstated with health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Patients and staff at the facility in Point Finger Road, Paget, are required to use separate entrances and go through a screening process.

But the increased regulations and need for physical-distancing resulted in reduced capacity — and a further reduction in revenue.

Chris Fosker, a radiation oncologist, said it was vital for the centre to restart the service because early detection of cancer gave the best chance at recovery.

But he said more stringent safety requirements, such as an increased need for personal protective equipment, had increased the charity's costs.

Dr Fosker said: “PPE has proven to be an unexpected expense in both time and money. The cost and need for PPE are challenging to project as there are so many variables.

“Daily patient volume, type of clinical appointment and staffing levels all affect the amount and type of PPE required on any given day.

“In the event the centre is impacted by a Covid-19 positive patient, the PPE requirements are higher.”

The charity spokeswoman said: “The centre's infectious control team spends hours each week estimating inventory versus need, and sourcing and ordering items such as gowns, masks, gloves, sanitiser, thermometers, eye wear, face shields, overalls, chair covers and airflow solutions.

“The need for PPE is an unbudgeted expense of $21,000 to date, however it is expected to exceed $50,000 by year-end.”

She added that safeguards were being put in place to protect the charity, but the measures may not be enough to maintain current staffing levels.

Those who wish to support the charity can visit cancer.bm or e-mail dnarraway@chc.bm

Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre (File photograph)

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Published July 06, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated July 06, 2020 at 9:32 am)

Cancer charity struggles in wake of pandemic

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