Gelinas continues to push PET scanner for Sudbury
Saturday, November 21, 2015 1:09:30 EST AM
Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas is not giving up trying to get the Government of Ontario to financially support the installation of a positron emission tomography scanner in Sudbury to serve the Northeast.
The New Democrat Health and Long-Term Care critic raised the issue again this week in the Ontario Legislature.
"It has been six long year since Sam Bruno started a campaign to bring a PET scanner to Northeastern Ontario," Gelinas said. "Over 30,000 people have signed a petition to bring PET to Health Sciences North in Sudbury. The hospitals from the northeast, the municipalities, the first nations and the church leaders all agree we need a PET scan at HSN."
New technology would allow for a mobile PET scanner to travel to Sudbury to conduct the scans that are valuable in diagnosing and staging treatment for cancer, heart disease, dementia and other medical conditions.
Health Minister Eric Hoskins asked the PET steering committee, comprised largely of relatives of Sam Bruno, to review the possibility of the mobile scanner coming to the Northeast, said Gelinas.
"That report has been with the minister for months now," she said. "We have companies ready, willing and able to bring a mobile PET scanner to the northeast right now. The Bruno family of Sudbury is ready to pay for the renovations necessary to the hospital (for a) dock for a mobile scanner.
"The only thing that is missing on this file is the ministry, Mr. Speaker. Where is this ministry's commitment to equity of access? Year after year of excuses and delay are unacceptable and unfair," said Gelinas.
Last month, at the sixth annual Sam Bruno PET Gala, family and steering committee members expressed their disappointment it has taken so long to get anywhere on the cause that was so dear to Sam Bruno.
The award-winning salesman died in 2010 of colorectal cancer when he was only 54. He fought until days before he died to get a PET scanner for Sudbury because he believed it would be so valuable to cancer patients.
Gelinas said when Hoskins was questioned at an estimates committee meeting about the mobile PET scanner, he promised action on the file before Christmas.
"Since his testimony, the ministry has been absolutely mum on the issue. Mr. Speaker, when the government finally decides to make this PET scanner a reality, a scan in Sudbury will cost no more than one in southern Ontario. However, the people of northeastern Ontario will at least save eight hours of driving when a scan is prescribed; driving through snow, wind, rain and/or hail; all while dealing with Cancer. It's far past time to get this done, Mr. Speaker."
PET steering committee member Brenda Tessaro, who is not related to the Brunos but has been active in the cause, has pointed out the Northern Health Travel Grant costs the province millions of dollars every year, some of which would be saved if a PET scanner were located in the Northeast.
The PET steering committee has raised more than $822,000 with the galas and other fundraising ventures. One of the biggest donors is the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival committee which pledged the proceeds of its events in 2015 and 2016 to the Bruno cause. The festival raised $71,000 last summer.
Frank Bruno, Sam Bruno's younger brother, said at the PET gala in October that his committee expected to hit the $1-million mark soon in its fundraising efforts. A permanent PET scanner would cost about four times that amount, not including fitting the hospital for the diagnostic machine.
Pet scanner 'so close'
By Carol Mulligan, Sudbury Star
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 9:59:45 EDT PM
Mike Foligno cant help but wonder if a positron emission tomography scan might have helped diagnose his wifes cancer earlier and perhaps given her a longer life.
Janis Foligno died seven years ago this month of breast cancer at age 47, leaving behind her husband, four children, a large extended family and countless community members who benefited from her cancer fundraising and awareness activities.
Good work is still being done in her name through the Janis Foligno Foundation, established by her family to honour her memory.
Last week, that foundation presented $20,000 to the Sam Bruno PET Fundraising Committee, to move it closer to the $4 million it must raise to purchase a PET-CT scanner for Health Sciences North.
Foligno said the PET project is an important one because it's all about Sudbury and it's all about helping people in Sudbury, which is what our foundation is all about.
The PET committee that formed after the death of Sudbury salesman Sam Bruno in 2010 has been working ever since to purchase the sophisticated diagnostic machine. It has received a commitment of up to $1.6 million annually in operational funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and HSN officials have submitted a plan to the ministry to build space to house the scanner.
But hospitals are required to raise the money for equipment purchases in the community, largely through the activities of fundraising foundations.
Were so close to getting this piece of equipment that is so crucial and vital to identifying cancer at an early stage, said Foligno before presenting a cheque to the PET committee.
He said he has often thought of his wifes cancer: What if a new piece of equipment comes out that could have detected this earlier or something would be in place that could identify (cancer) where you could treat it at the first stage and get rid of it earlier?
This is a piece of equipment that can do this so it's vitally important to our community."
Foligno is president and chief executive officer of the foundation established in his wifes memory. The couples four children, including NHL players Nick and Marcus Foligno, are officers on the foundations board of directors, as are their sisters Lisa and Cara.
"This is something we're firm believers in, of trying to help our community as much as possible. Not just Sudbury and area, said Foligno, former general manager of the Sudbury Wolves and member of the Buffalo Sabres. We're talking all of (northeastern) Ontario, so anything we can do to help the cause, we're willing to do.
Benevolence runs in the family because the Folignosniece, Kristin Green, and husband Adam Ball raised $7,000 in a single day for the PET fundraising drive at their gym, CrossFit Sudbury.
Crossfitters from several communities in the Northeast participated in an event that raised the cash, said Green.
The same day the Janis Foligno Foundation and CrossFit presented donations to the PET group, United Steelworkers Local 6500 gave it a cheque for a relatively small sum by comparison, but it was nonetheless significant.
The union representing 2,500 production and maintenance workers at Vales Sudbury operations received a Jefferson Awards Foundation honour, the first time an award has been presented outside the United States. It came with a nominal $500, a giant medallion and a certificate signed by the American foundations board of directors, who include actor Michael Douglas and comedian and film and television personality Whoopi Goldberg.
USW Local 6500 earned the award for its good work in the community, specifically a donation last year of $65,000 to the Sam Bruno PET group
PET committee spokeswoman Brenda Tessaro, a retired teacher who knew Sam Bruno but is not related to the family, was delighted with all three contributions.
The committee has struggled for six years to make Sams dream of locating a PET scanner in the Northeast come true.
Tessaro said the PET committee was honoured and grateful to be chosen by all three organizations for donations.
"Both the Foligno and Bruno families have experienced a journey that no one wants to go on; that of the loss of a loved one to cancer at far too young an age, said Tessaro.
Both families recognized the need to do what they could to not have others go through this terrible experience.
"From their dedication and hard work, lives will be saved and others won't have to experience the losses of the Foligno and Bruno families, she said.
Tessaro and her group cant say enough about the support that has been shown to their PET cause by Steelworkers. Whether it was the huge donation or the small cheque, its purchase of tables of tickets at the annual Sam Bruno PET Gala or talking the issue up among members, the union has been behind the committee all the way.
The PET cause will get another boost from a mail-out campaign being run by the Northern Cancer Foundation. Executive director Tannys Laughren said the foundation is sending a letter to 7,000 or more donors asking them to support the purchase of a PET scanner.
The Bruno committee has raised more than $2.2 million toward the cost of a PET-CT scanner, thanks in large part to a $1-million commitment from the City of Greater Sudbury.
Laughren said her foundation only does a direct mailing every couple of years, "so this is a special one.
Donors will receive receipts for 100 per cent of the money they give.
"It goes to the local piece, said Laughren of the campaign. It's a piece of local equipment, it's local people donating to the local cancer centre for local equipment that will save local lives."