Oncology unit brings care closer to home

It may be a long road to recovery for Ipswich Hospital Oncology Day Unit patient Wendy Piasecki. But she is thankful for one shortcut. 

Ipswich Hospital Oncology Day Unit patient Wendy Piasecki
Ipswich Hospital Oncology Day Unit patient Wendy Piasecki.

Mrs Piasecki was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy and immunotherapy at the expanded Ipswich Hospital Oncology Day Unit (ODU), which opened in April 2021 as part of Stage 1 of West Moreton Health’s $146 million Master Plan redevelopment.

“I started treatment in November (2020) and will finish this month (January 2022). It’s a long, long road and, what has made it a lot easier is to go and have treatment at Ipswich Hospital and the attitude of the staff there. You are treated as a friend rather than as patient,” she said.

The Springfield resident said she was originally told by her doctor that she would have to travel to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for care.

“The thought of driving there was horrible, but then I got called by Ipswich Hospital staff and was told they would be taking over my care,” she said.

“Ipswich Hospital is 20 minutes up the road and it was the best news. It meant that someone could drop me off without it being a long journey. It is wonderful to be treated close to home.”

The former nurse said she felt the staff deserved “a pat on the back” for their positive attitude.

“I love that you see big smiles but they are serious about the care they give. I might not know them all by name, but I know their faces and their smiles and they make me feel like part of the family,” Mrs Piasecki said.

ODU Nurse Manager Cherry Spross said the unit treated hundreds of patients each week, easing the burden of travel for many.

“With our new unit we are able to care for patients closer to home. Rather than making the long journey through traffic to city hospitals, they can see consultants and be treated with the same drugs and receive more personalised care,” she said.

Ms Spross said the waiting times were shorter and support systems were in place to ensure patients were well cared for.

“All of our nurses have done extra training to be able to educate and support the patients. Many have done further university studies as well,” she said.

“We have also trained several nurses in the rural hospitals to be able to offer support and that is something we hope to expand on in the new year.”

The ODU provides specialised care for patients with oncological malignancies such as breast cancer, head and neck cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal and gastrointestinal cancer.

The unit has 10 chairs, which operate five days a week from 8am-5.30pm, and incorporates Specialist Medical Oncologists, Medical Registrars, Resident Medical Officers, Specialist Pharmacists, nursing (including a Nurse Unit Manager, Clinical Nurse Consultants, Cancer Care Coordinators, Clinical Nurses and Registered Nurses), Administration Officers, Social Workers, a Psychologist, a Dietician and volunteers.