SICK children and their families no longer face 600-kilometre round trips to Melbourne for treatment that could be as simple as a single injection.
A new facility at the Albury hospital children’s ward will not only enable treatment for cancer patients through a partnership with the Royal Children’s Hospital, but will also be used by children who would otherwise have to go to the emergency department.
The $535,000 facility, funded as part of the Albury-Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre, includes a day treatment room with two paediatric chairs, a parent lounge and an outdoor playground.
While Tanya Sanders was pleased she wouldn’t have to use the new facility, with her daughter Isabella Evans, 9, in remission for leukaemia for the past three years, she recalled 12-hour round trips to Melbourne for maintenance treatment that can now be done at Albury hospital.
“Sometimes Isabella’s treatment would be just two minutes,” she said of the trips that would sometimes be made every two weeks.
“It was 6am to 6pm — we would drive to Melbourne, see the doctor, have chemo and drive back.”
Ms Sanders said families would save thousands of dollars in travel, food and accommodation thanks to the new facility.
“It will make a huge difference to families, it really will,” she said.
Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Stuart Spring said more than 10 cancer patients a year would no longer have to travel to Melbourne.
The new facility will also be a respite place for other sick children who would have previously been treated in the emergency department.
“Kids in the ED don’t go very well, it’s an adult area, there can be frightening things going on,” Dr Spring said.
“And I think when there’s stress around kids react to that, so if we can take out some of that element of stress the kids will get better quicker.”
Alana Glogolia was pleased there would be a playground at the new facility as her son Angus recently spent eight weeks at Albury hospital for a respiratory illness.
Previously, there was no playground available for her two older children and she had to find a carer for them when she visited Angus.
The Bright Hospital Op Shop provided $12,000 for the two treatment chairs and Wodonga’s Flutterby Foundation raised $11,000 for the outdoor playground.