Theresa (Terri) Karapita, PCC, Baldish Virk, RN, and Julia Bergen, RN pose in the doorway of their interim medication room.

Theresa (Terri) Karapita, PCC,
Baldish Virk, RN, and Julia Bergen, RN pose in the doorway of their interim medication room.

Development of the new Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre (ARHCC) has led to an increase in the number of patients coming to the facility for chemotherapy treatment. Storage space for cancer medications was starting to become inadequate and a serious hazard for patients, staff and visitors.

Teresa O’Callaghan, Manager, Cheam 2 Oncology, has been involved with bringing this issue to the attention of hospital leaders, and is pleased that the situation is being addressed.

Teresa and her team documented the potential hazard in PSLS. “There were multiple layers to this problem,” says Teresa. “Stacks of chemotherapy meds were being left out at the nursing station because we had no space. It was a very hazardous situation for everyone in the area and the potential for medication errors to occur was high.”

Dr. Shallen Letwin, Executive Director, and Linda Herman, Director, worked with Teresa to raise awareness about the situation to hospital decision-makers, Occupational Health, and the Site Space Planning Committee. The team explained why a long-term solution would need to take high priority in future hospital planning and why an interim solution was needed immediately.

Stacks of Chemo drugs stacked at the nursing station.

BEFORE: Chemo drugs stacked at the nursing station.

“Without a dedicated medication room, meds were piled-up at the nursing station every day,” she says. “We made it clear that there was no place for our staff to safely handle and check these hazardous drugs prior to administering to patients, which had a significant impact on keeping them safe.”

A proposal for permanent renovations to the area was submitted to the Board of Directors, which included a fully dedicated, secured space for chemotherapy medications for the purpose of storage, handling and checking by nursing staff. 

Renovations have been approved and are expected to begin immediately.

INTERIM SOLUTION: A converted Patient Quiet Room. Renovations for a long-term solution will begin immediately.

In the meantime, with the assistance of the Medication Program, a patient quiet room adjacent to the nursing desk has been set-up to store all chemotherapy drugs in the locked room.  

Teresa says this experience has been really empowering for the nurses.  “We used PSLS to raise awareness among staff and to lobby for change. Our staff has seen the value of reporting events like this into PSLS.  This all came about because our staff was concerned, not only for the safety and care of our patients, but also for their colleagues.”

Along with a new medication storage room, a revitalized workstation space will be developed to create a safe work environment for the staff and to promote privacy and confidentiality for their patients.

For more information about Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre (ARHCC) please click here

Teresa O’Callaghan, is Manager, Cheam 2 Oncology, at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre. To learn more about his initiative please email her at

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