Clinic a 'goer'

11 May, 2005 09:43 AM

Milton cancer clinic campaigners claimed a momentous victory last Wednesday when the South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service committed insurance funds of at least $300,000 from the Easter Sunday Minto House fire and the land to the proposed cancer facility.

More than 300 concerned community members cheered as SESIAHS director of clinical operations Matthew Daly gave a firm commitment of financial support and technical assistance at the public meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Daly also established a time line for construction to begin on the facility with work expected to start by Christmas 2005 and be completed by August 2006.

Appeal committee members feared SESIAHS may decide to use the Minto House site for another facility and relocated the cancer facility to Milton Hospital.

"SESIAHS will commit funds from insurance to develop the facility," Mr Daly told the meeting.

"It is an exciting project and the scope of community support and input confirms the commitment of the community to the project.

"I would like to start the project as soon as possible and would like it to be a community project.

"I am here for the long haul and will see this facility through to the end," Mr Daly added.

In addition to offering financial support for the stand alone community cancer services centre Mr Daly personally agreed to head up the area health team to work with appeal committee representatives to bring the project to completion.

Addressing the 300 strong crowd outpatients appeal campaigner Dr Brett Thomson emphasised the desperate need to get cancer services on line immediately.

"The appeal has received outstanding public endorsement," Dr Thomson said.

"This a project that belongs to the community and one which the area health service is supporting but the community must retain control and ownership of the concept and development.

"The support from the health service is an enormous relief and a testament to the community."

Milton Outaptients Appeal president Dee Carrington said the large turnout to the meeting at short notice showed the strength of community support for the project.

She said last Wednesday was an important day for the community.

"We have taken the first step in addressing the lack of adequate cancer service in the area," Mrs Carrington said.

"The committee is extremely proud of the community's response to this appeal, evidenced by its generosity in raising nearly $220,000 to date and by the overwhelming turnout to at the public meeting.

"We still have a lot of work ahead of us, both in fundraising and project development but it's good to have an end date in sight.

"We are all looking forward to the centre's opening ceremony in 15 months time."

Mrs Carrington said to take the project to the next stage the appeal is asking for expressions of interest from local residents to join the working party, which will liase with the area health team to complete the project.

A small team will be assembled, covering a range of skills and experience relevant to the development of the centre.

Anyone interested in volunteering their time, skills and expertise should call 4455 4953 for an applications form.