MEDIA RELEASES

Cancer treatment centre brings together new skills in first year

The Jim Carney Cancer Treatment Centre has been the catalyst for an expanded team of medical staff with specialist cancer treatment skills to be assembled in Northland.

The centre, which on Tuesday November 17 celebrates one year since it opened its doors to patients[1], has also virtually eliminated the waiting list for Northlanders diagnosed with cancer.

“The new staff who have been brought together since the opening of the centre have improved our ability to service the community,” says Dr Lisa Dawson, Whangarei Hospital’s head of oncology.

“We can now provide the majority of services required by cancer patients in Northland – this is a significant benefit to the community, given that demand for cancer services in Northland continues to increase.” (The main exceptions are radiotherapy treatment, for which most cancer patients travel to Auckland; while most children with cancer are treated at Starship Children’s Hospital, which has a specialised child cancer unit.)

Based at Whangarei Hospital, the centre was purpose-built, with more than twice the space of the previous cancer treatment facilities that it replaced. Other benefits of the new facility included more privacy, multi-disciplinary meeting areas, designated areas for children’s treatment and space for future expansion if required.

The centre provides day-stay treatment for cancer patients, including initial consultations, chemotherapy treatments and follow-up from a team of medical experts, including other related nursing and support services.

Named after a prominent Whangarei businessman and philanthropist who died in November 2000, the centre came about as the result of collaboration between Northland DHB and the community, led by The Northland Community Foundation/ Through Project Promise, many hundreds of Northlanders were involved in a huge variety of fundraising events and activities and raised more than $3 million towards the $5 million project (Northland DHB funded the other $2 million) to make the cancer centre ‘promise’ come true.

Since the opening of the centre, Northland DHB has employed the following additional staff:

·         A third medical oncologist

·         Māori and Pacific Island cancer care navigator

·         Clinical nurse specialist in oncology

·         Clinical nurse specialist in haematology

·         Full-time social worker for cancer care

·         On-site pharmacist

·         New haematologist.

A psychologist is also being recruited for the centre.

In addition, a rural medical specialist has been trained in oncology and is now working in this field one day a week in Kaitaia, saving patients from travelling to Whangarei.  Videoconferencing facilities in Kaitaia are also used to connect patients with medical staff in Whangarei.

In the year since the centre opened, staff have seen 786 new cancer patients, offered 4500 patient appointments and provided 3358 treatments (up from 1675 the previous year).



[1] The official opening ceremony for the centre was held on 7 November 2014, and it was functioning from 17 November.



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