A TOUR of the brand new North West Cancer Centre was top of the agenda when NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner visited Tamworth hospital yesterday.
The new facility, funded by a $31.7 million federal government grant and a $10 million contribution from the NSW government, began treating patients in medical oncology, including chemotherapy, last week.
The treatment area is spacious and light, with views across the city and Liverpool Ranges, as well as TVs for each chair.
Ms Skinner met with patients such as Manilla resident Olga Chase, who said she found the new facilities “wonderful”.
“The staff are lovely, they really are. I was a bit apprehensive last week (when receiving the first treatment), but they put you at ease,” Mrs Chase said.
Nowendoc resident Chris Laurie was receiving his second treatment at the centre yesterday.
Diagnosed almost a year ago, Mr Laurie watched the centre rise from the ground up.
He said he appreciated the extra space that allowed for his family to come sit with him during treatments.
“It’s so open and airy and beautiful,” Mr Laurie said.
Both Mr Laurie and Mrs Chase will visit the centre each week for treatment.
The centre includes four extra chemotherapy chairs and will eventually provide up to 5500 treatments each year – 2000 more than previously.
Radiation therapy will be available for the first time in the region towards the middle of the year, with 7000 treatments expected to be provided.
Ms Skinner said the centre was something the region “long-deserved” but had not received.
“Talking to some of the first chemotherapy patients, they’re glowing,” Ms Skinner said.
Ms Skinner also welcomed the hospital’s 20 newly-graduated nurses while in Tamworth.The new centre would also incorporate the use of telehealth to support health professionals across the region, she said.
“I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s about time we have these services available for regional people, closer to home,” Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said.