12/04/2013 05:17 EST | Updated 02/03/2014 05:59 EST

New clinic, helpline to provide more direct care to Manitoba cancer patients

WINNIPEG - Manitoba has unveiled a $40-million urgent care clinic and helpline for cancer patients.

The government says the clinic beside Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre should reduce wait times and improve communication.

Patients with cancer symptoms or treatment side effects will no longer have to go to a hospital's emergency room or wait for an appointment with an oncologist.

Health Minister Erin Selby says that will also take pressure off emergency departments.

The province says the helpline has already been operating for a few weeks and nearly 100 calls have come in.

It says the average wait time at the clinic is about 25 minutes.

Marnie Ackerman says she could have used the helpline when she was diagnosed with cancer six years ago.

“It’s not only scary for the patient, but it’s scary for your entire family because all of a sudden, life as you know it takes a complete change,” Ackerman said.

The number for the cancer helpline is 204-787-8900.