Coonabarabran Health Service will soon commence chemotherapy services though an innovative program - the first of its kind in NSW.
Established in partnership with Dubbo Health Service, the Remote Video Assisted Chemotherapy (RVAC) clinic is due to start in April.
Dubbo-based medical oncologist, Dr Florian Honeyball, said this service would enable some Coonabarabran patients to receive low- risk chemotherapy at the Coonabarabran Health Service, rather than travelling to Dubbo for each treatment.
“Dubbo Health Service provides the majority of chemotherapy and cancer treatments for much of the northern sector of the Western NSW Local Health District, and this outreach service will allow treatment of eligible patients as close to home as possible, in a safe environment,” Dr Honeyball said.
“We will utilise Telehealth to enable this new, supported chemotherapy service to occur.
“This will ensure the ability to have a supervising nurse at Dubbo, overseeing and supporting the nurse administering chemotherapy in Coonabarabran.
“I look forward to working with the Coonabarabran Health Service to deliver this innovative outreach program.”
Coonabarabran health service manager, Susan Berry, said there were enormous benefits for residents to receive services in their own community.
“This is about supporting our local communities to receive the health services and treatments they need closer to their community, wherever we can,” Ms Berry said.
“It also relieves the burden on cancer services at the Dubbo Health Service, as well as the community transport service.
“There are benefits for our staff too, as there will be an opportunity to upskill and deliver this important service to our local community.
“It’s a great initiative to allow flexibility for some local people to receive cancer treatment closer to their family and community.”
Warrumbungle Medical Centre GP, Dr Aniello Iannuzzi, said he was relieved the chemotherapy service had been restored at Coonabarabran Health Service after a 10-year absence.
“Patients on chemotherapy are already worried, tired and financially challenged. The same applies to their families and carers,” Dr Iannuzzi said.
“It is clear that patient able to access the local service will be less out of pocket and able to stay at home.
“Many of the therapies are short - the trip to Dubbo and back usually takes longer than the treatment episode.”
Dr Iannuzzi said patient outcomes also had the potential to improve as patients were more likely to agree to chemotherapy and more likely to attend all visits.
“This is a step in the right direction and I applaud the efforts of Sue Berry and Dr Honeyball in making this happen,” he said.
“We are talking about restoring and expanding services all the time. Telehealth is one plan, but there are also others in the wind.”
Nurses are currently being trained to deliver chemotherapy service, with the first clinic scheduled for April.
With Daniel Percival playing patient, Vickie Bowman demonstrates how low-level chemotherapy will be administered to patients, in a pilot program at Coonabarabran Health Service that will utilise Teleheath technology.