Two paediatric cancer patients from Ukraine will be transported to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for treatment in the next 24 to 36 hours, officials confirmed Tuesday.
Hospital officials said they have been preparing to receive paediatric patients for about a week, calling it one of the “most complex logistical challenges” SickKids has faced. The process included identifying patients and families who are able to travel to Toronto, ensuring they meet transportation and immigration requirements, and then assessing their health on the ground prior to takeoff.
“On top of this, we have to make sure that we work with our community partners,” President and CEO Dr. Ronald Cohn told reporters.
“I will have to say that the support from our Ukrainian communities and other communities has been unbelievable, to ensure that once the families that are here, that in addition to the medical care that we provide here at SickKids, we have opportunities to provide support for families.”
Cohn said the federal government has worked to speed up the immigration process for these families.
SickKids does have the capacity to treat 10 to 15 children and their families from Ukraine, Cohn added. No details were provided as to why these two patients were chosen to be transported first.
“This is a highly fluid situation that changes sometimes on an hourly basis and while we are in very active conversations with our medical colleagues in Poland on a daily basis, we cannot confirm at this moment whether more pediatric patients will arrive for care in Toronto,” he said.
Cohn said it is unclear what will happen to the families after the children have received the care they need, but that SickKids has “a long-term view” on how they will be supported throughout their treatment.
Accommodations have been arranged for families in the short-term and officials are working on long-term accommodations.
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