Since opening its doors six months ago, the Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre (MHICC) is already having a significant impact on patients in Sunraysia and nearby regions, with over 130 patients having completed their radiation therapy treatment at the centre.
It is estimated that since the $12 million centre opened on April 3 this year, patients receiving radiation treatment have been collectively spared more than 800,000 kilometres of travel, with the majority of patients no longer needing to travel to Melbourne, Bendigo or Adelaide for treatment.
Mildura Health Private Hospital (MHPH) CEO Marcus Guthrie said staff were consistently receiving feedback about the positive impact MHICC was having on patients, family, carers and friends.
“The overwhelming comments we receive is that patients have the flexibility to do whatever they please within their treatment cycle, whereas historically their lives were so disrupted due to the requirement of constant travel,” Mr Guthrie said.
During the past six months of operation, the most common cancers treated at MHICC were skin (35), breast (32), prostate and pelvic (30) and lung (11), with patients coming from townships including Wentworth, Pooncarie, Euston, Broken Hill, Swan Hill, Ouyen and Robinvale for treatment.
Icon Mildura Site Manager Anita Erlandsen said close to 3,200 individual radiation treatment sessions had taken place and that not a day went by without someone voicing how much they appreciated the centre.
“During our first months of operation, many of the patients we saw had decided not to have radiation therapy as it meant leaving Mildura for long periods of time, being away from their family and friends in unfamiliar surroundings,” Ms Erlandsen said.
“A lot of these patients were the primary breadwinner, working on agricultural properties that could not be left for long periods of time, or primary carers.”
Ms Erlandsen said travelling for treatment was just not an option for them and the centre offered some parity with those living in metropolitan areas.
“Receiving radiation therapy is no longer a huge burden for local cancer patients. They get to have their treatment and go about their day and go home and sleep in their own bed.”
The centre is made up of two sections – radiation treatment, delivered by Icon, and an oncology facility, where MHPH provides chemotherapy treatment in eight private oncology bays.
“We are witnessing an influx of new patient admissions to the unit,” Mr Guthrie said of the oncology facility.
“As well as now having two Medical Oncologists, Dr Krishna Rachakonda and Dr Jose Leal, the unit receives patient transfers from those requiring ongoing care post radiation therapy treatment.”
To further boost the care provided to MHICC patients, the Mildura Health Foundation was recently established. Its first project is to raise over $3 million to build 10 patient accommodation apartments on land already purchased in Thirteenth Street, Mildura.
This will ensure patients from outlying areas who are receiving radiation treatment at the cancer centre, have access to comfortable and free or low-cost accommodation after State Government Rebates. It will also enhance the ability to attract specialist medical providers to the region, which will benefit the whole community.
Since its launch in September, the project has raised over $1 million. For more information about the Foundation, visit: www.mhfoundation.com.au