Horsham’s new cancer centre is on schedule to be finished by early December.
Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Catherine Morley said the building was at a great stage.
“Progress is at a fast and furious rate,” she said. “It’s on time, on schedule and on budget.”
She has been inside the centre and said it looked fantastic.
“It’s bigger than you think,” she said.
She was grateful to Locks building company for their work and the community for its fantastic support, including the most recent donation of $150,000 from the Freemasons.
This community financial support means being able to make the centre a more welcoming and pleasant place, plus potentially run wellbeing sessions in the wellbeing room.
The centre will provide oncology treatments with nine chairs instead of the current six in a much bigger room with a large window overlooking the park area.
Ms Morley said treatment shifts would also be increased to morning and afternoon, using the same chairs twice a day instead of once.
This alone will save people from the town and around the region a lot of travelling time and expense, but the recently launched Telehealth service will be another bonus for people needing to have appointments with specialists, or pre-appointments with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
Telehealth is being run by Wimmera Southern Mallee Health Alliance and means people can access specialists from towns closer to home such as Edenhope, Warracknabeal, Hopetoun, Nhill or Horsham, and not have to travel to Ballarat or Melbourne.
WSMHA project officer Donna Bridge said the program would ease a lot of the stress from what is already a difficult situation.
“For cancer patients in the Wimmera, access to specialists often requires travelling long distances where the financial costs and the burden on families is an added stress on top of cancer treatment,” Ms Bridge said.
A cancer resource nurse, nurse practitioner or wellbeing coordinator would arrange the appointment and could sit with the person during the consult using a laptop or computer to connect to the specialist.
“If you need scans, X-rays or blood tests, the cancer resource nurse or other health professional will talk to you about getting this done close to your home beforehand,” Ms Bridge said.
The service means people can also have pre-chemotherapy appointments and review appointments with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, saving them travel time and expenses.
Wimmera Health Care Group cancer nurse practitioner Carmel O’Kane said by using telehealth, cancer specialists from major metropolitan and regional hospitals could deliver face-to-face telehealth video consultations to Wimmera cancer patients securely online.
“This means better access to cancer specialists, as well as savings for patients and their families who no longer need to take time off work, travel long distances and pay for accommodation to get the care they need,” she said.
As well as Telehealth sessions, the wellbeing room will also be used for oncology rehabilitation which addresses physical and mental health through the treatment and after and could include sessions such as massage, music therapy, a wig library (an idea put forward by someone) and many other ideas to encourage ongoing health.
Oncology was just a small part of the cancer disease treatment, Ms Morley said. It was about helping people live longer and healthier lives into the future.
Ballarat Integrated Cancer Centre will visit the Horsham centre four times a month instead of three and will also send a haematologist to help with haematology treatments.
She said they were trying to encourage specialists to understand that it was not good for patients to have to travel long distances for appointments.
“We have experienced oncology nurses and can provide a service that really meets our community needs,” she said.
The centre will offer dialysis and community palliative care as well as the cancer support.
“We are madly planning how we can let the public in to have a look before we start treatments,” Ms Morley said.
They are hoping to have open days during December and start treatments in January.