Cancer care boost: Club Central gives $1m to help finish centre

Very generous: St George Hospital Cancer Care Centre receives $1 million from Club Central. Pictured are Sutherland Shire councillor Steve Simpson, Sandra Coogan, Cancer Care Centre Foundation chairman Warren O’Rourke, Club Central chief executive Mike Walker, Club Central board chairman Bernie Holdsworth, Alf Briscoe and Phil Stanton. Picture: John Veage

Very generous: St George Hospital Cancer Care Centre receives $1 million from Club Central. Pictured are Sutherland Shire councillor Steve Simpson, Sandra Coogan, Cancer Care Centre Foundation chairman Warren O’Rourke, Club Central chief executive Mike Walker, Club Central board chairman Bernie Holdsworth, Alf Briscoe and Phil Stanton. Picture: John Veage

THE Cancer Care Centre at St George Hospital is well on its way to becoming one of the best facilities of its kind in Australia, following a $1 million donation from Club Central.

The money, announced on Tuesday night during a function at the centre, will go towards the final stage of a 20-year project.

It will help pay for a major overhaul of the chemotherapy area, providing an additional 11 chemotherapy chairs, more beds, clinician rooms, specific bedrooms and far greater patient space and privacy.

It is anticipated the revamping of the chemotherapy area will begin in 2016.

The future: Funding from the state government and Club Central will allow the Cancer Care Centre to be expanded to 20 chemotherapy chairs and four beds, making the facility proficient for at least 20 years.

The future: Funding from the state government and Club Central will allow the Cancer Care Centre to be expanded to 20 chemotherapy chairs and four beds, making the facility proficient for at least 20 years.

Cancer Care Centre Foundation chairman Warren O'Rourke said once the facility was expanded and refurbished, it would be the pride of Sydney when it came to cancer treatment and would be able to cater for cancer sufferers from the region over the next several decades.

Mr O'Rourke said the contribution by Club Central was "icing on the cake", following the efforts of Oatley MP Mark Coure, who ensured a $1.5 million commitment towards the final stage was delivered by Health Minister Jillian Skinner on March 6.

Mr O'Rourke said the decision by the government to commit dollar for dollar towards the final $3 million stage gave the directors of Club Central Hurstville and Menai "the necessary confidence to confirm their generous donation".

Club Central chairman Bernie Holdsworth said Club Central was proud to play its part in providing such an important facility for the St George and Sutherland Shire communities.

‘‘Many of our own members from Club Central Hurstville and Menai have, or will in the future, experience the wonderful care provided by St George Hospital Cancer Care Centre,’’ Mr Holdsworth said.

‘‘We recognise the need to provide as much financial assistance as we can to ensure that the centre has the best of accommodation and facilities to maintain the highest standard of care into the future for residents of our communities.’’

Mr Coure confirmed his immense appreciation of the support from Club Central and the state government and spoke in glowing terms of the untiring efforts made by the fundraising committee and contributors.

‘‘We put our money where our heart is a month or two ago and put in $1.5 million for the Cancer Care Centre to assist in the final stages of the rebuild,’’ he said. 

‘‘As a local, I want to thank the entire team who have been behind this project over the past 20 years. I acknowledge every one of you.’’

Centre head, Professor John Kearsley, said this level of success would not have been achieved without the dedication of the Cancer Care Centre Foundation committee.

‘‘Chairman Warren O’Rourke and the committee comprising Brian Langton, Rob Robson, Phill Bates and Ferdie Dominelli, and medical representatives Dr Winston Liauw, Dr Bill Lynch and Andrew Bridgeman, have worked closely to provide an amazing facility that will be a wonderful legacy for decades to come,’’ he said.

Professor Kearsley thanked Hurstville Council, which committed more than $700,000 to the centre, and the project’s many sponsors and supporters.

Mr Bates, the committee’s community fundraising public officer, said almost $8million was raised by the committee by the start of 2015. He estimated that during the past 20 years more than 800 businesses and many more individuals had contributed to the centre, along with the four councils in the region.

The final stage is expected to start in 2016.

TIMELINE

Medical staff and community leaders gathered at St George Hospital to mark the 21st anniversary of St George Cancer Care Centre in February this year.

The centre has provided more than 850,000 services to cancer patients since opening in 1994. It brings together medical oncology, haematology, radiation oncology and full support services under the one roof, said the hospital’s acting director of radiation oncology.

The centre is a leader in clinical and basic scientific research and advanced teaching and training.

1994: St George Cancer Care Centre is established, meaning patients will no longer need to travel outside the region to access the full spectrum of specialised services.

1995: Community committee starts fundraising to build a lodge where patients and family members can stay while patients from country areas and interstate receive treatment.

1998: Bezzina House, with 15 units, opens. Since then it has provided more that 60,000 room nights.

2007-11: Further fundraising leads to creation of the Prostate Cancer Institute, with the most comprehensive facilities under one roof in the country.

2013-14: Two levels for clinical trials added to the adjoining Pitney building.

2015: 350 square metres of office space added to the top of the Pitney building to create space for the expansion of the chemotherapy area.

2016: New chemotherapy facilities anticipated for construction.

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