South West Regional Cancer Centre a year on

Open:Peters Project's Vern Robson, Glenys Phillpot and Vicki Jellie, South West Healthcare director of nursing Julianne Clift and Epworth Radiation's Liam Jukes.

Open:Peters Project's Vern Robson, Glenys Phillpot and Vicki Jellie, South West Healthcare director of nursing Julianne Clift and Epworth Radiation's Liam Jukes.

Cancer patients are opting to stay close to home and have treatment they would have otherwise refused since the South West Regional Cancer Centre opened 12 months ago.

About 80 people who would have been burdened by the cost to travel to larger centres and leave their families have said yes to treatment at home. 

This weekend marks a year since the facility was completed after a passionate community fundraising campaign, led by Peter’s Project founder Vicki Jellie.

The centre provides chemotherapy and radiotherapy services, which previously patients had to travel to Ballarat, Geelong or Melbourne to access. 

Centre manager Liam Jukes said almost 300 radiotherapy courses had been delivered in 12 months.

Based on numbers of south-west resident from the previous year, the Epworth team, who operate the radiotherapy clinic, expected to deliver 220 treatments. “The big success story here is the reason for the growth,” Mr Jukes said. “It’s is not because there’s more cancer but there’s a lot of patients having treatment that wouldn’t have.  

“Now the service is here people are getting the option or are choosing to have treatment instead of declining it.” 

Mr Jukes said the majority of cancers treated were breast and prostate, followed by rectum and skin. Forty per cent of treatments were to relieve palliative patients’ symptoms and manage pain.

Most radiotherapy patients are from Warrnambool, followed by Portland, Hamilton, Camperdown and Mount Gambier aged between 50 and 70 years.

South West Healthcare (SWH) director of nursing Julianne Clift said more than 220 patients had received chemotherapy since the move from the hospital eight months ago. “The biggest benefit is if people are having radiotherapy they can have it here,” Ms Clift said. “A number of our patients would have had combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy as part of their treatment and they would have had to go away to have both. Now they can have both in Warrnambool.”

Number and home location of chemotherapy patients visiting the centre

Of the patients who have had chemotherapy, 95 people are from Warrnambool and Allansford, 15 each from Camperdown and Portland, 14 from Hamilton, 10 from Noorat/ Panmure and nine people from Terang. Seven patients have travelled from South Australia, while the others are from across Victoria. 

Nearby Rotary House which provides accommodation for patients’ families has also experienced a “significant” increase in stays from 450 rooms to 900 this year.

SWH director of service development Jamie Brennan said most guests were from Portland, Hamilton and Mount Gambier.

“It was brilliant foresight on behalf of the four Rotary clubs who saw the demand in Warrnambool and then with the cancer centre coming online it’s justified the need for this type of facility,” he said. “It’s been great “

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