Jenn's story is all too familiar

22 Apr, 2009 03:30 PM

Jenn Ekerick is just one of dozens of Ulladulla residents forced to travel to Wollongong for appointments with her oncologist because no cancer specialists are visiting Milton’s Community Cancer Centre.

With no family in the area, Jenn has had to rely on the generosity of her good friends and Community Transport Aid volunteers to get to her specialist appointments for the past 18 months.

She said regular visits to Milton by oncologists would make life much easier for herself and many others battling cancer in the district.

“Without the support of my wonderful friends, getting to medical appointments in Wollongong would have been very difficult.

“You often don’t feel well or up to travelling, so to be able to have consultations closer to home would make life a little easier when times are tough.

“The community did work hard to raise the funds and was promised these services at Milton so I would like to see it happen.”

Jenn’s good friend Lorrie said she would hate to see the cancer centre became a “white elephant”.

 

Cancer Outpatients Appeal Committee president Dee Carrington is calling for the South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service to honour its commitment to the people of Milton-Ulladulla and bring cancer specialists to Milton.

 

In the lead up to the centre’s official opening Dee said the issue has been raised with health service by the committee in their three scheduled quarterly meetings held since the centre was handed over on July 4, 2008.

“The only answers received have been excuses – oncologists are working at full capacity; there is a shortage of oncologists; they can't afford the travel time,” Dee explained.

“Holding oncologist clinics in the specially designed and equipped consult rooms was and continues to be one of the community’s fundamental priorities when fundraising for the centre.

“It was an essential element in the feasibility study carried out in association with the area health service to justify the need for the centre, and was the reason why two fully equipped consult rooms were included in the building.

“It is over three years since the feasibility study was completed and still there is no progress by the health service to provide oncologist visits to Milton.”

Dee said the health service’s latest excuse was nothing more than a delaying tactic.

“The latest excuse is they will have to look at the numbers of patients involved to see if it is justified,” she said.

The Milton Centre features consultation rooms fitted out with video conferencing equipment that would allow patients to be interviewed by their specialists in the presence of a doctor or oncology nurse.

Dee said the health service has not even made use of that state-of-the-art video link-up facility and instead forces patients to travel, at times, unnecessarily.