A VISION to respond to high incidences of cancer is closer to reality with excellent progress on Bass Coast Health’s new Cancer Care Centre.

Specialist haematologist Dr George Grigoriadis joined Bass Coast Health (BCH) almost two years ago to start cancer services at Wonthaggi Hospital with Dr Abbey Willcox and to help shape the vision for the new Cancer Care Centre.

This week, between consulting with clients, George checked in on the emerging build.

“This is an extraordinary site – and opportunity – and I’m excited for our Bass Coast community,” he said.

“The design will see all of our services working together so that our patients feel well supported.

“To me, it’s the most amazing and enjoyable thing to be a part of. It gives me purpose working with this team to realise what we can contribute to this community.

“These six months have emphasised the need to treat patients locally. This will be a model for other regional places throughout Victoria and Australia.”

Working with community and specialists together, it is a symbiotic relationship.

“In planning for this beautiful facility, we were adamant that this will be about growing capability in the region. We are catalysts to attract the next generation of people to lead from here,” he said.

The Bass Coast Health team embarked on a deliberate and concerted effort to increase the level of cancer care available locally. At the heart of this vision was an integrated care model that could be realised through a dedicated facility.

“Our cancer services have grown since commencing, with specialist haematologists such as George, specialist medical oncologists such as Professor Mark Shackleton and Adj Assoc Prof Andrew Haydon, and specialist radiation oncologist Associate Professor Hany Elsbeth all providing regular world-class cancer care at Bass Coast Health,” the health service’s chief operating officer, Louise Sparkes, said.

“These specialists are joined by our BCH nursing and pharmacy staff who underwent training at Alfred Health to ensure our chemotherapy treatments are safe and of a high quality.

“We know this is already making a huge difference to patients and their families in our region. It’s a very exciting time for our community and the staff at BCH.”

The modern treatment centre will offer nine chairs and three consulting rooms at Wonthaggi hospital and expand the newly developed cancer service that is already being delivered in collaboration with Alfred Health.

Co-designed by staff and patients, the build is possible thanks to support from the Australian government, announced by the Member for Monash Russell Broadbent, and many donations from the very generous local community, including a special anonymous donor who provided $850,000 towards the new building.

“We have had extraordinary support from the Commonwealth government in funding much of the building, the Victorian government in funding the doctors and nurses and the growth of this service, and a truly wonderful local community that has supported the furnishings and equipment. We will open the doors of this much-needed facility in February 2021 and we couldn’t be more excited,” Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child said.

“We feel very blessed.”