Cancer centre increases capacity

A MAJOR expansion of the Gippsland Cancer Care Centre, aimed at addressing an increasing demand for cancer services, will be completed by the end of the month.

The $22 million project, funded by the former Federal Government, has increased the centre’s chemotherapy capacity to 26 chairs, up from 13, while the dialysis unit will add another three chairs to its nine.

“It became evident, once we opened the Cancer Care Centre in 2006, that demand for services was going to far exceed our capacity very quickly,” Latrobe Regional Hospital board chair Kellie O’Callaghan said.

“Effectively it was fully utilised and there was always the opportunity to provide additional services.”

In 2012 there were 1653 incidents of newly diagnosed cancer recorded for Gippsland, a 46 per cent increase on numbers recorded in 1996.

“Ideally we’d like to have communities that don’t need to access cancer services, but the reality is that people do and the more we’re able to meet that need, the easier the patient journey is,” Ms O’Callaghan said.

“The centre’s not only a convenient option, but there is some benefit being within your local community when you’re having your treatment.”

Large windows with bench seats for family support, along with treatment and procedure rooms make up the new chemotherapy unit, where patients can now face each other and interact while receiving treatment.

Dialysis and chemotherapy patients will enter through a separate reception area to the hospital’s main entrance.

Joint Nurse unit manager for dialysis, Madeleine Balcombe said the expansion would also mean much-needed storage space and a pleasant environment for patients, who undergo treatment for up to six hours at a time, three days a week.

“We’re quite cramped at the moment,” Ms Balcombe said.

The new facility, along with the Allied Health department will be open to the public on Sunday, 21 September.

The hospital open day will run from 11am to 2pm, including a tour, community health expo, children’s activities and teddy bear clinic.