The dream that one day Mildura cancer patients will be able to undertake their radiation oncology treatment in their home town will soon become a reality.
It was announced this week that public patients will be able to access treatment at a new radiation therapy cancer centre in Mildura, expected to open by the end of the year.
The new $11million facility is being funded by the Federal Government to the tune of $6.5 million with the balance of the cost being contributed by the Mildura Health Fund. The ongoing operation of the centre will be undertaken by oncology specialist the Icon Group.
Mildura Health Private Hospital CEO Marcus Guthrie said that a lot of people have been working on this initiative for a long time.
“We are delighted that the facility is now a reality, and surveying of the site in Healthscope Court where it is to be built, has commenced,” he said.
“The centre will occupy approximately 850 square metres, and given we understand that Healthscope Court is congested, we have plans for a nine-space, dedicated car park providing access for all public patients to allow for ease of arrival and departure.”
Mr Guthrie said that the efforts of Melbourne based Oncologist Dr Andrew See, who has been travelling to this district from Melbourne for 11 years, deserved recognition.
“This is monumental in itself, and so to have him as Icon’s clinical lead at the Mildura Cancer Centre is tremendous,” he said.
“We also have Mildura Oncologist Dr Krishna Rachakonda, who has been here for several years working in the Mildura Base Public Hospital and also the Mildura Health Private Hospital.
“Importantly, in addition to the welcome funding from the Federal Government, Mildura Health is contributing the capital for the building of the cancer facility, and that is largely in part due to the Mildura Health members annual premiums. We are a not-for-profit organisation, and we can thank the Mildura Health Fund members for their contribution to this oncology centre as well.”
Mildura Base Public Hospital CEO Terry Welch commended the Mildura Private “for their energy and focus in their amazing work to get this project over the line.
“From our point of view, I think the community can sit back and see partnership working,” Mr Welch said.
“We aren’t competing, we are working together to deliver premium heath care locally. And therefore, today is a wonderful day for us, and it means that once the facility opens, people will no longer have to travel away for the majority of their radiotherapy.
“The key thing is that the treatment will be provided with no gap. This is accessible health care and is about bringing accessible health care to Sunraysia and that is a really important link that we want to make known.
“We are delighted, and since September, we have done an enormous amount of work to build partnerships to really focus on moving things forward and this another example.
Mr Welch also commended Member for Mallee Anne Webster on her energy and drive to seek the funding.
“Anne has worked hard and has a determination to continue to build these services and we are really looking forward to this centre opening and what it will mean for our community and also our clinicians and it herald an exciting future.”
A long time advocate for better health service for regional Victoria, Dr Webster said that she was delighted that the Federal Government had contributed more than $6.57 million to ensure the cancer treatment centre could be built.
“The point is, people’s health status shouldn’t depend on where they live,” she said.
“The Federal Government has committed $6.5 million to this vital project under the Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants.
This funding includes $4.6 million for the linear accelerator, $1.35 million for the CT simulator, which is vital for 3D planning of treatment and a further $591,410 for other planning equipment.
“I think that this shows that the Federal Government is committed to working with both our private sector and public sector in cooperation with the State Government to ensure that people in this region don’t have to go through what my father had to which adds to the burden of an already incredibly difficult time.
“The fact that people will be able to access radiotherapy here will be so important, and I know it will relieve many families from that burden of having to travel and find accommodation and all of the costs associated with that and the separation from loved ones, and so like Marcus and Terry, I am just so excited about this project and look forward to hopefully seeing this completed by the end of the year.”