Relief for Bundy cancer patients

Coronary Care Unit registered nurse Lynn Leisk and Dr Geeth Weerasooriya are pleased with the announced Federal Government funding to upgrade cardiac services.
Coronary Care Unit registered nurse Lynn Leisk and Dr Geeth Weerasooriya are pleased with the announced Federal Government funding to upgrade cardiac services. Mike Knott

BUNDABERG cancer and cardiac patients will no longer have to travel to Brisbane for some medical treatments following the Federal Government's funding announcement of two multimillion-dollar projects for the city.

A proposed $5.6 million integrated cancer care centre would offer radiation and chemotherapy treatment for Bundaberg cancer patients, while cardiac services at the Friendly Society Private Hospital will get a $5.3 million upgrade.

The cancer centre is being spearheaded by the Sunshine Coast's Oceania Oncology.

One of its directors, Irwin Strous, told the NewsMail the cancer treatment centre would be a real coup for Bundaberg should all necessary consents be obtained, including a Health Program Grant.

"A lot of people who should be treated for cancer don't get that treatment because it's not currently available in Bundaberg," he said.

"People who have cancer unfortunately have to travel to Brisbane for radiation treatment."

Mr Strous said the planned centre would mean many cancer patients would not have to travel further afield.

"I think it's a huge plus that there is going to be something in the area for people to receive treatment without commuting long distances and leaving their loved ones," he said.

Mr Strous said the organisation was in talks for the sale of a piece of land where the cancer centre could be built, but would not reveal the site's location.

Bundaberg breast cancer sufferer Jill Jennings commuted to Brisbane for chemotherapy treatment between January and April this year.

"Certainly the cost of having to travel for treatment is a huge burden," she said.

"Currently the State Government gives us $30 a night for accommodation. When I stayed at the hostel, it was $110 a night - you're already $80 a night out of pocket."

Mrs Jennings is now going through seven weeks of radiation treatment in Nambour.

"We had to find somewhere to rent for seven weeks," she said.

She said the centre would mean a lot to cancer patients and families.

"If we do get it and it's good-quality care, that would be a huge benefit for people in the Bundaberg region," she said.

Friendly Society Private Hospital assistant director of nursing compliance Yvonne McChesney said the hospital applied for its cardiac upgrade funding last September.

Mrs McChesney said the project would involve obtaining more equipment for several cardiac units, including the cardiac investigation unit, known as the "cath lab".

"People won't have to travel to Brisbane for the cath lab diagnostics," she said.

Mrs McChesney said a full step-down cardiac unit and a purpose-built cardiac ward would also be established.

Topics:  australian government bundaberg cancer federal budget 2012 health

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