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World Cancer Day: Advanced care and Headwaters team education

In recognition of World Cancer Day, here are three ways Headwaters bolstered our cancer care..

In recognition of World Cancer Day, here are three ways Headwaters bolstered our cancer care this past year by investing in the training and professional development of our health teams.  

New prostate cancer procedure  

Led by Headwaters’ urologist Dr. Gandhi, radical prostatectomy is a new surgery now available to Headwaters patients that removes the entire prostate to treat prostate cancer. Although this procedure is not new to Dr. Gandhi, radical prostatectomy marks an amazing addition to the surgical department at Headwaters and to the Orangeville community. Providing this procedure at Headwaters eliminates the need for patients to travel outside of their community for care and allows for prompt cancer care to patients. 

In Winter 2023, two patients received life-altering prostatectomy procedures at Headwaters. Both patients gave positive patient feedback on their experiences. Thanks to Dr. Gandhi’s team training, nurses and allied health staff can more confidently perform more of these types of procedures for patients who need it. Introducing such an intricate procedure requires support and training for nurses and staff across the various stages the surgical journey. This included the preop clinic, day surgery, the operating room, post anesthetic care units, the inpatient units, and the medical device reprocessing department. 

“Perioperative care, or patient care after their prostatectomy surgery, is as important as the surgery itself,” says Dr. Gandhi. “The entire prostatectomy team and I strongly believe in patient education, such as how to care for their catheter, care for their incision, and manage mobility after surgery ensures the best possible surgical outcomes. Without these educational tools, the patient’s recovery would be complicated.” 

Headwaters’ clinical education and professional practice team plays a big role in training. “My role allows me to share knowledge, provide guidance on best practices, and assist in implementing new policies and procedures. My passion is to contribute to high quality patient centered care along with inspiring and contributing to the professional growth of others,” says Alessandra Centofanti, Perioperative Clinical Educator. 

Regional Cancer Program continued education  

Offered through funding from Headwaters’ regional cancer partner, Mississauga Halton Central West Regional Cancer Program, Headwaters nurses will be receiving a second year of continued education specifically for palliative care. Regional Cancer Program continued education varies in theme each year. The previous year of Headwaters’ participation in Regional Cancer Program continued education helped advance our nurses’ understanding and implementation of oncology care. 

“Fostering growth in our nurses by investing in their learning and offering training and educational opportunities makes a difference in our team’s ability to provide exceptional care,” says Amanda Cotton, Manager, Medicine, Complex Continuing Care, and Allied Health. “Last year, we invested growth and educational opportunities in oncology care to both our ambulatory care teams as well as Dialysis from the Regional Cancer Program. This year, we’re excited to extend this opportunity brought forward by the Regional Cancer Program to raise awareness and highlight educational opportunities in palliative care. We will extend this learning opportunity to team members from various areas of care, such as our Emergency Department, as well as in-patient areas to ensure we have an exceptional team of clinical staff able to assist in a patient’s journey at end of life.” 

This year’s focus on palliative education will help the team sharpen their understanding of what palliative care means and how to best support individuals during their end-of-life journey. This includes equipping our nurses, pharmacists and physicians to understand how to have difficult though important health conversations and manage symptoms.  

Palliative cancer care training will focus on Headwaters’ Emergency Department given their first point of contact with patients. Equipping the entire health team will help ensure a supportive and tailored patient experience from admission to discharge – and beyond – for palliative patients and caregivers.  

Breast cancer advancements  

Headwaters is very proud of the work our teams have done, especially in advancing our breast cancer program available close to home. Early detection is key. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer that women face, affecting 1 in 9 women.  At diagnosis, the majority of Headwaters patients are found with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer.   

This past year, Headwaters implemented a Breast Diagnostic Assessment Program (DAP), in collaboration with the surgical and diagnostic imaging departments.  The program allows streamlined care beginning from a patient's screening mammogram. As a result, the program has significantly reduced wait times for diagnosis and treatment.   

In the operating room, Headwaters also introduced the MOLLI Marker, which is a radiation-free and wire-free device surgeons use to identify cancerous lesions during surgery.  The MOLLI Marker is a magnetic device about the size of a grain of rice, strategically placed into the tumor by the radiologist.  At the time of surgery, the device is detected by a specialized wand, which helps surgeons quickly and accurately locate the tumor and guide the procedure.  The device can be placed up to 30 days before surgery, providing more flexibility and improved patient experience through treatment.   

"We are very passionate about providing high quality care to our patients when they need us the most,” says Dr. Wang, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief of Staff. “These innovations in technology, our operating room, and programs are testaments to how our patients can expect excellent care that is also close to home.”