Rockhampton, Queensland – Local doctors, patients and Central Queensland Health (CQ Health) officials are gathering at GenesisCare’s cancer centre in Rockhampton today to celebrate five years of delivering world-class cancer care to local patients.
In 2016 GenesisCare and Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service partnered to open a comprehensive cancer centre within Rockhampton Hospital, providing regional cancer patients access to radiation oncology, medical oncology and pathology.
Prior to the centre opening, local patients in the region had to travel more than 700km to Brisbane for treatment, placing a considerable emotional and financial burden on patients and their families.
In addition to providing cancer treatment services, GenesisCare and Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service have partnered to provide on-campus education, training and peer support to grow and develop a sustainable and high quality workforce to meet the future health needs of the community.
Cindy Versace joined the team as a radiation therapist when the centre first opened in 2016 and now leads the team as Centre Leader of the site.
“Over the last five years we have rolled out a number of innovative technologies and treatment techniques to ensure our local community here in Rockhampton receives the same world-class cancer care as patients in Brisbane and other metropolitan cities.”
“On a personal level, it’s been an absolute pleasure working as part of the team here and getting to know the local community. I distinctly recall my first day as an RT at the centre when it first opened and it’s amazing to be back here again serving the community in my new role as Centre Leader.”
“I’d encourage anyone who is considering a career in radiation therapy to consider training and placement options in towns such as Rockhampton and other regional parts of Queensland,” said Ms Versace.
Since opening, the team have introduced a highly precise treatment, stereotactic radiation therapy, for patients with bone, spine and lung cancers, drastically reducing the number of visits and treatments required.
Dr Tuan Ha, Radiation Oncologist and Chair of GenesisCare’s Queensland Clinical Management Committee, said: “The highly targeted and precise stereotactic treatment option targets tumours in fewer high-dose treatments than traditional therapy, preserving healthy tissue and reducing the number of visits and treatments required.”
“Queensland is considered the skin capital of the world and we see a huge burden of disease locally here at our Rockhampton centre, as well as our other regional centres across the state,” said Dr Ha.
“In response to the local burden of skin cancer, we have introduced advanced radiation therapy for non-melanoma skin cancer management, including basal cell carcinomas (CCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), using advanced curved surface techniques to clear whole body areas of tumours.“
Andrew Saunders, General Manager for Oncology, Queensland, said the current COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel further demonstrate the importance of investing in high quality oncology services in regional areas to ensure patients can receive care closer to home.
“We have worked closely with Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service to keep our patients and staff safe during the pandemic. Our local service here in Rockhampton has allowed our patients to continue receiving high quality care without having to travel to Brisbane for treatment during this challenging and uncertain time.”
Kerrie-Anne Frakes, Executive Director Rockhampton for CQ Health, is delighted to celebrate this milestone occasion.
“Our partnership with GenesisCare means we are able to live our health service’s mission of providing care closer to home for our patients,” she said.
“Previously we know patients were making the difficult decision to not go ahead with treatment for their cancers because they just couldn’t move to Brisbane for long periods of time. Having access to these important cancer services right here in Rockhampton is saving lives.”