Articles 5
Mobile PET scanner a possibility for Sudbury
Original Article
By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life
Jan 28, 2015 - 4:52 PM

If all goes to plan, a mobile PET scanner could soon be making weekly trips to Sudbury, says Dr. Kevin Tracey, president and medical director of Precision Diagnostic Imaging.

Since 2011, Tracey has been operating a clinic in Windsor that has access to a mobile positron emission tomography scanner, an advanced medical device that is used in clinical oncology and can help detect brain diseases, such as various types of dementia, and heart disease.

On Jan. 14, Tracey made a case to the province's PET Steering Committee for his clinic's mobile PET scanner to travel a route that would include Sudbury.

We hope Sudbury is the first site to benefit from it, he said.

The PET Steering Committee is an expert panel responsible for advising the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on issues relating to PET access in the province after reviewing scientific evidence.

Recommendations to the ministry regarding the introduction of PET service are anticipated to come from steering committee in the coming months or sooner, said Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins in a statement to Once advice is received, we will review those recommendations and make an evidence-based decision.

If the ministry approves Tracey's plan, it would offer a temporary solution for Sudburians who currently travel to Toronto for PET scans.

Since 2010 the Sam Bruno PET Steering Committee has advocated for the province to purchase a PET scanner for Sudbury, and has raised $650,000 to help with that goal.

But a PET scanner costs nearly $4 million, and while the issue has been a hot political topic during Sudbury's byelection, the province has not yet committed to purchasing the medical device for Health Sciences North.

Tracey said the mobile PET scanner, which travels in a specialized trailer, has the same functionality as a permanent model that would be installed at a hospital.

In the United States, he said, nearly 50 per cent of PET scanners are mobile.

This mobile PET is really a sharing of a really expensive tool, he said.

And Sudbury is the perfect place to test that model of health-care delivery, Tracey added.

Northeastern Ontario is the only region in the province without a PET scanner.

Every year, more than 500 people travel from the northeast to Toronto so they can receive a PET scan.

Tracey said he suspects many people don't bother making the trip to Toronto, but would be able to use a PET scanner if it was parked at Health Sciences North.

If the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care approves Precision Diagnostic Imaging's proposal, Tracey said they would update the cameras in their PET scanner to make the device more efficient.

If we're talking about in excess of 500 patients a year, that money could easily be diverted to funding and upgrading our services, he said.

That would allow them to see around 10 patients per day.

Health Sciences North would need to invest $15,000 to $25,000 to have the facilities needed to accommodate the mobile PET scanner.

Beyond that, said Tracey, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care would be billed around $1,000 for each scan.
NDP candidate backs calls for PET scanner for Sudbury
Original Article
By: Darren MacDonald - Sudbury Northern Life
Monday, January 19, 2015 3:38 PM

Ontario's New Democrats rallied in Sudbury Friday to again call on the Liberal government to fund a PET scanner for the city.

Suzanne Shawbonquit, the party's candidate in the Feb. 5 byelection in the city, said people are losing their lives because the Liberals won't fund the high-tech scanner in Sudbury.

Every other city has a PET scanner, and we don't, Shawbonquit said. We have to push the government.

The positron emission tomography (PET) scanner costs around $4 million, but is able to better diagnose cancers, as well as other illnesses such as dementia and lung disease. A committee struck to honour Sam Bruno, who fought for the scanner until his death in 2010, has raised $660,000 in support of bringing one here.

Some of the committee members joined Shawbonquit at the news conference, along with Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Nickel Belt MPP France Glinas.

Horwath said the committee was an example of the Sudbury spirit and that her party will continue to support their efforts.

Your community knows how to come together and rally around important causes and rally around the important things you want to improve your community, she said. France has brought 28,000 signatures on petitions into the Legislature. I've spoken on the issue in the Legislature. France has done the same.

It's obviously something northeastern Ontario needs and that Sudbury deserves.

Horwath castigated the Liberal government for not committing to bringing the scanner to Sudbury, accusing them of being able to act quickly when it benefits the party, but not when it comes to issues like the PET scanner.

When it's something that's in their best interest as we saw with Glenn Thibeault, frankly they can make those decisions in the snap of a finger, she said. But when it comes to important decisions for the health-care needs of Sudbury, the Liberals have dodged, they've delayed, they've done everything to avoid making the decision that this community deserves and needs.

Shawbonquit agreed, saying the decision should be an obvious one.

People dealing with serious, life-threatening illnesses shouldn't have to drive to Toronto to get proper care, she said. We have people here who are being misdiagnosed and not getting the equipment and the scanning they need. And they're getting sicker when they could have been diagnosed earlier.

This is really important. It's impacting families' lives. People are losing their lives. We need to smarten up and really think about this.

Horwath also took a moment to address the Andrew Olivier scandal, whose last week backed up his allegations he was offered a job or an appointment in exchange for withdrawing his candidacy and supporting Thibeault by releasing recordings of conversations he had with prominent Liberals.

Elections Ontario and the OPP have since said they are investigating the case. Horwath said the recordings are slam dunk proof of wrongdoing.

I think it's really clear that the Liberals were all offering Mr. Olivier the moon, the stars and the sun, she said. They were giving him the opportunity to name his own price when it came to stepping aside.

It's typical Liberal style, right? They deny that they've even done this, yet the evidence is very clear. And they continue to deny it. It's classic Liberal spin and I believe the people of Sudbury won't buy it.
'Get the damned thing here' Sudbury PET scanner
Original Article
By Carol Mulligan, Sudbury Star
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Wayne Tonelli warns he's going to be like a dog with a bone from now on, pressing the Government of Ontario to match dollar for dollar money raised in the northeast for a positron emission tomography scanner.

Tonelli is co-founder of Miners for Cancer, which presented a cheque for $100,000 to the Sam Bruno PET Steering Committee on Friday at the opening of the Allan Epps Memorial Hockey Challenge.

Tonelli and Epps, who died in 2005, started what has become a series of fundraisers under the Miners for Cancer umbrella, including golf and ball tournaments, and raffles, raising money to help eradicate the disease that has killed so many miners.

The Allan Epps challenge is on this weekend at Tom Davies Community Arena, featuring 23 teams from throughout northeastern Ontario in three days. Because this year is the 20th anniversary of Miners for Cancer, organizers wanted to do something special to mark the occasion.

The group was spurred on by the announcement late last year from Health Minister Eric Hoskins that his government would provide $1.6 million in operational funding for a PET scanner at Health Sciences North, starting April 1, 2016. As is the case with most hospital equipment, the cost must be paid with funds raised in the community.

Tonelli was pleased with the operational announcement, but doesn't think it's fair people in the northeast must raise at least $4 million to purchase and install the sophisticated diagnostic used to stage treatment for cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

"That's awesome," he said of operational dollars, "but you know what? Why can't the government kick in?"

Miners for Cancer is determined to support the efforts of a small committee of people who have been working for more than five years to fulfil the vision of Sam Bruno, a Sudbury man who died in July 2010 of colorectal cancer.

Bruno began the drive to have a PET scanner located in the northeast, the only geographical area of the province that does not have one.

The committee carrying on Bruno's vision, which includes his sisters, his brother and his widow, has raised $1 million in the community after almost six years of hard work.

Members of the Sam Bruno PET Steering Committee were pleased that Miners for Cancer was one of the first groups to come on board to help it raise $3.5 million for a PET scanner after the province announced its support for the operational costs.

The donation will help the committee raise $3.5 million in capital costs so the citizens of Sudbury and the northeast will have equality of access to a PET/CT scanner.

"Our miners are the foundation of this community, making it the nickel capital of the world and a great community in which to live. Their selflessness, reflected in their volunteerism and fundraising efforts, greatly impacts our community in many different areas," said the committee in a written statement.

The committee was overwhelmed with the pledge of $100,000.00 toward the purchase of a PET/CT scanner with the promise of additional monies to come.

"We can't thank Miners for Cancer enough for bringing us another huge step closer to a PET scanner at HSN and hope that other organizations and corporations will make this their goal as well," said the committee.

Tonelli said the Sam Bruno PET Steering Committee shouldn't bear the fundraising burden alone.

"You know we have a world-class cancer centre, we need world-class equipment in there," said Tonelli of the PET cause. "Six years campaigning? They need help. Miners for Cancer is there to help."

Tonelli promises that a portion of the proceeds of every fundraising event Miners for Cancer holds from now on will go toward the PET project.

Northerners have paid untold millions in taxes and mining royalties, and northerners suffer diseases such as cancer in larger numbers than the provincial average.

"So, let's match us dollar for dollar," he said of the provincial government. "Let's get the damned thing here. Six years, six years they've been going after this."

Miners for Cancer will hit another huge milestone when it reaches the $1 million mark in money raised at its events. He and Epps had no idea when they started the campaign in 1996 that it would last so long and raise so much money, said Tonelli.

Epps was general foreman of Inco's Garson Mine and Tonelli general foreman at the company's Frood-Stobie Mine when the price of nickel was low and the safety record of the mining company was very poor.

"We were going through some pretty rough times, and Al and I wanted to get the morale going with the guys," said Tonelli. They started with a "piddly" ball tournament, but raised a surprising sum of money, and the question then was what to do with it.

They decided that everyone knows someone who has died or survived cancer so they would support that cause. They wanted to keep the money in the community so they started donating it to the Northern Cancer Foundation. They have never stopped.

Tonelli is not just optimistic that a PET scanner will be installed in Sudbury, sooner rather than later.

"I'm confident we're going to get it. You mark my words."