Dermatologist in high demand

Dermatologist in high demand

Dermatologist Dr. Lyne Giroux provides a wide variety of skin-care treatments within the Sudbury region.

Giroux opened her medical/surgical dermatology practice in January 2005 to a community that hadn’t been able to recruit and retain a full-time dermatologist for 10 years.

“Sudbury could easily use two more dermatologists,” she noted, well aware of the number of hours and effort she has contributed toward developing her practice.

Giroux spent 13 years in Ottawa, earning degrees in biochemistry and medicine and doing additional training in dermatology before returning home to Sudbury, where she remains the city’s only full-time dermatologist.

Growing pains that accompany the start-up of a new practice overlapped with two pregnancies. She allowed herself only two weeks maternity leave for each child in an effort to reduce her waiting lists and meet increasing demands.

“It is not easy, and there are a lot of reasons I’m behind in my day,” she explained. “They don’t train you (in school) how to set up and run a business … in the first three years, there was a huge learning curve.”

As a soloist in the field, Giroux has a six to seven-month waiting list, sees between 50 to 70 patients daily and willingly assists physicians who call for advice or information. She also serves patients in remote communities via telemedicine and often has medical students in tow seeking more in-depth information on dermatology because skin-related issues comprise between 10 to 30 per cent of family physician office visits.

Phototherapy

Giroux offers phototherapy treatments in narrow band UVB and PUVA. These treatments are necessary for a dermatologist to treat psoriasis, eczema, lymphoma of the skin and other skin-related problems. People who previously had to travel to southern Ontario for phototherapy can now receive it in Sudbury. The treatment also benefits those who do not have drug plan coverage for expensive creams.

“Normally, it is offered in hospital settings and they carry the cost,” she said, but hospital space and budgetary constraints forced Giroux to fund-raise on her own and purchase the $150,000 units. Upkeep is costly because the $100 bulbs (of which there are 30 per unit) require changing every six months. Although it is covered by OHIP, Giroux earns less than $12 per treatment.

“When I decided to open this centre, I needed a lot of space for phototherapy, so I had to come to a place where I knew I could expand.”

Referrals from GPs make up 90 per cent of her business, while the other 10 per cent is cosmetic, performed out of the Sudbury Skin Clinic, a complementary business Giroux began in 2006.

The Skin Clinic helps offset the expense of the phototherapy services and meets additional cosmetic demands. While no GP referral is necessary, there is a $65 consultation fee, which is absorbed into the cost if treatment is pursued. By integrating her services, Giroux can refer additional requests not covered by OHIP to the Skin Clinic.

Although she sets aside only one day each week for cosmetic services, she makes a point of seeing each patient “to make sure they receive the right treatment.” It is this professional referral that sets her service apart from other aesthetic skin businesses.

Cosmetic services

Some of the cosmetic services are laser hair removal for light and dark skin, botox, fillers and a new CO2 fractionated laser treatment for wrinkle removal. Although the cosmetics do not involve plastic surgery, Giroux will perform skin cancer removal.

The most common ailment she encounters is basal cell skin cancer, which is also the most common type of cancer.

“I see between 100 and 200 cases per month,” she said. “It is not one you’ll die from, but it can invade and destroy structures, so it must be removed.”

Squamous cell cancer cases number between 50 and 100 cases per month, and malignant melanoma cases, the most deadly cancer with the highest risk of spreading to organs, number between two to four cases per month.

Now into her third year, Giroux noted more people are seeking treatments to prevent skin cancer. She offers a laser treatment called photodynamic therapy to treat actinic keratosis (pre-squamous cell cancer). Although not covered by OHIP and only some drug plans, the recovery time is faster than OHIP-covered treatments such as liquid nitrogen and creams.

“Some people have so much sun damage, you’re always chasing after them, so you want to do a treatment that clears up the entire solar damage,” she said.

Giroux also treats people with sun allergies. Over a four to six week period she applies small doses of UVB to increase the number of protective skin cells.

For a good daily dose of vitamin D, only 10 to 15 minutes of sun is required. Giroux emphasized the importance of sun protection in childhood to reduce the risk of skin cancer later in life.

www.steponespanish.com/drgiroux.html

 

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