Medical mission realised with the new St George Hospital Cancer Care Centre

Vision made into reality: Oatley MP Mark Coure and community leader Phill Bates cut the ribbon to officially welcome the new Cancer Care Centre at St George Hospital. Picture: Chris Lane
Vision made into reality: Oatley MP Mark Coure and community leader Phill Bates cut the ribbon to officially welcome the new Cancer Care Centre at St George Hospital. Picture: Chris Lane

Those dedicated to saving lives and the patients they treat were at the forefront of St George Hospital's launch of a major new cancer hub this month.

It what doubles the capacity of cancer treatment services at the hospital, the refurbished Cancer Care Centre was officially welcomed with open arms on June 14.

The extensively re-developed centre combines oncology, haematology, support services and research.

Everything is bigger - the outpatient clinic has expanded, with almost double the number of consulting rooms, plus an upgraded reception and waiting area.

Additionally, an operating theatre for prostate cancer patients is housed on site - the first publicly funded of its kind in Australia.

Director of Cancer Services for the local health district, Associate Professor Winston Liauw, says the revamped centre is one of the best he's seen.

Nurturing treatment: Breast cancer survivor Robyn Townsend and Director of cancer services for the local health district, Associate Professor Winston Liauw. Picture: Chris Lane

Nurturing treatment: Breast cancer survivor Robyn Townsend and Director of cancer services for the local health district, Associate Professor Winston Liauw. Picture: Chris Lane

"It's like time travel walking from the old building," he said.

"I've seen a lot of waiting rooms, and this is definitely one of the nicer ones. It's more open, whereas before it was very cramped. People would be facing each other listening to conversations, but there are now little nooks, more privacy.

"We're running at 100 per cent capacity but this has given us more flexibility. In 2019, more than 5300 people in the local health district will be told they have cancer and there will be more than 1580 cancer deaths."

There is also going to be a kiosk check-in, where patients can swipe in and out.

"Our aim is to have everybody's photo on record so the ultimate idea is to track where patients are so we have a better idea of waiting times and reocgnise our patients," Associate Professor Liauw said.

A welcoming garden is yet to be planted, and the former parking area has made way for a patient transport bay.

There will be an in-house blood collector, which means patients will not have to walk to another area of the hospital to get blood tests done.

The build was funded by the Cancer Care Foundation, which raised about $16 million in the past two decades. The NSW government also contributed $1.5 towards its make-over. Community organisations including Club Rivers and the Lamrock Society also supported the project with donations.

St George Hospital general manager Leisa Rathborne thanks Phill Bates for the foundation's significant contributions to the project. Picture: Chris Lane

St George Hospital general manager Leisa Rathborne thanks Phill Bates for the foundation's significant contributions to the project. Picture: Chris Lane

Hospital general manager Leisa Rathborne says the project is a fine example of how a community committee can work successfully with hospital administration, medical staff, community leaders and the government to achieve a first class facility.

"The recent donation topping $16 million is a credit to the foundation's tireless fundraising efforts," she said.

"The contribution has significantly supported the Cancer Care Centre's ability to meet the growing needs of the community. The continued high standard of care is possible thanks to their help.

"This beautiful centre will make such a different to patients going through a difficult period in their lives."

Sutherland breast cancer survivor, Robyn Townsend, first arrived at the old centre for treatment in 2007 when she was diagnosed. She is now cancer-free.

"Receiving a diagnosis is a devastating and life-changing thing, but the network of services is so beneficial," she said. "Seeing this actually feels like a home away from home. It doesn't feel clinical or intimidating. It almost feels more nurturing with the way it's been designed."

There to cut the ribbon was Oatley MP Mark Coure and community leader Phill Bates.

Mr Coure says it's a "massive improvement".

"It's completely different, and for the better," he said.

"It was previously dark and small. The vision for world-class cancer care in St George has become a reality. Other hospitals need to take a leaf of what we see here. I hope this centre will be a place of healing and hope for those diagnosed."

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