Stay home for cancer treatment

The launch of a new Wimmera-based initiative will ensure people with cancer in regional towns can now receive specialist advice at their local health service.

Wimmera Southern Mallee Health Alliance services have started using Telehealth so people with cancer don’t have to travel to Horsham, Ballarat or Melbourne to see their oncologist.

WSMHA project officer Donna Bridge said the program would ease a lot of the stress from what is already a difficult situation.

“For cancer patients in the Wimmera, access to specialists often requires travelling long distances where the financial costs and the burden on families is an added stress on top of cancer treatment,” Ms Bridge said.

“Now you can have the consult at your local Wimmera health service, in places such as Nhill, Warracknabeal, Hopetoun, Horsham or Edenhope, and a cancer resource nurse, nurse practitioner or wellbeing coordinator arranges the appointment,” she said.

“They can sit with you during the consult and a laptop or computer is used to connect to your specialist.

“If you need scans, X-rays or blood tests, the cancer resource nurse or other health professional will talk to you about getting this done close to your home beforehand.”

Ms Bridge said the new service would also provide an advantage for patients having haematology treatment at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

“These patients will be able to have their pre-chemotherapy appointment in the Wimmera before they travel to Melbourne,” she said.

“This saves time from spending long days in Melbourne and eases the burden of travel if they are not well enough for their cancer treatment.”

Follow up review appointments can also be done using Telehealth.

Wimmera Health Care Group cancer nurse practitioner Carmel O’Kane said by using telehealth, cancer specialists from major metropolitan and regional hospitals could deliver face-to-face telehealth video consultations to Wimmera cancer patients securely online.

“This means  better access to cancer specialists, as well as savings for patients and their families who no longer need to take time off work, travel long distances and pay for accommodation to get the care they need.”

Who do you speak to for a cancer telehealth appointment?

Adrienne Caldow    Ph: 03 5585 9888

Cath McDonald       Ph: 03 5585 9845