Gippsland Southern Health Service has expanded its chemotherapy service so more people can be treated closer to home.
An oncologist is now onsite weekly for consultations and as a resource for the dedicated chemotherapy nursing team, doubling the previous fortnightly service.
The chemotherapy clinic opened in February 2000 in the old hospital and moved to a designated chemotherapy room in the new Leongatha hospital in 2013.
GSHS director of nursing Vivienne Low said the service had increased to meet local patient demand.
“There’s a need for this treatment and people appreciate that they don’t have to travel out of the region,” Ms Low said.
Between 14 and 20 people use the service each week.
The oncologist is at the clinic every Thursday and a pharmacist and haematologist visit every fortnight. The clinic is also serviced by a dietitian and other allied health workers when required.
The experienced nursing staff have been trained as Cancer Wellness Facilitators by Cancer Council Victoria and regularly update their skills to work in a rapidly changing environment.
District nurses also help in the community with follow-up care and the clinic receives support from other Gippsland chemotherapy units and Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Services.
In addition to the team of experienced chemotherapy nurses, the clinic has a team of helpers, including a ward clerk and three volunteers who assist to ensure best care is given.
Patients can also access the Gippsland Survivorship Program via Telehealth, giving them ongoing support, follow-up care and education throughout their cancer journey.
In addition to administering chemotherapy, immunotherapy drugs are becoming more common, proving to be effective and with less unwanted side effects.