Works begin on Shepparton radiation therapy cancer centre

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Goulburn Valley cancer patients are set to receive world-class radiation therapy treatment for the first time, with construction started at the Shepparton site.

Located on Corio St, the development of the $11million state-of-the-art cancer centre from radiation oncology provider GenesisCare is expected to treat more than 400 patients a year.

GenesisCare Victoria oncology general manager Shane Ryan was joined by members of commercial construction company Erilyan, along with Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum, State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe and Goulburn Valley Health infrastructure and business executive director Sandy Chamberlin for the official sod turning yesterday.

Mr Ryan thanked all involved with the project so far for their hard work and advocacy.

He said GenesisCare would work in partnership with GV Health to provide ‘‘a seamless, world-class cancer service for patients here in Shepparton’’.

‘‘Radiotherapy is a leading treatment modality for patients with cancer and we’re going to have one of the most advanced linear accelerators here in Shepparton where patients will be able to get very personalised care and it’s just going to be a wonderful asset to the community,’’ Mr Ryan said.

‘‘I think it’s something the community will be very proud of once we’re up and running.’’

A linear accelerator is the most common device to treat cancer with external beam radiation and involves a device that uses high radio-frequency electromagnetic waves.

Erilyan project manager James Curtin took the delegates on a tour of the site, saying the facility had been designed with patient care at the forefront.

‘‘All the consulting suites, interview rooms, areas where the patients will be, is down one side of the building. The other side of the building is all the staffing and amenities areas,’’ Mr Curtin said.

‘‘Essentially the patient is not going to feel like staff are on top of them the whole time.’’

Mr Curtin said the facility would feature a CT room with a control room, a radiology oncology bunker including a maze entrance to prevent unintentional harmful exposure and an outdoor courtyard.

‘‘It’s really been an exciting project to be involved in,’’ he said.

Mr Curtin said this centre would give patients the opportunity ‘‘to live a normal life during treatment,’’ with 15 to 20-minute treatment sessions.

‘‘They (patients) can schedule their time to be in here at 7 o’clock, first cab off the rank as such, get their treatment and go to work for the day,’’ he said.

‘‘It’ll just be a constant flow-through effect all day.’’

He also said about 85 per cent of the tradespeople working on the project were from the region.

‘‘It’s a joy to work here with the locals and get to know the local area whilst building something so significant,’’ he said.

Mr Drum said this was a ‘‘win, win, win for the Goulburn Valley’’.

‘‘It’s been great for us to come along now and see what Genesis are doing here,’’ he said.

Mr Drum thanked GenesisCare for their overall contribution to the future of cancer treatment services in the region.

‘‘What we’re going to have here with radio oncology is going to be very,very special but what we’re going to have in a couple more years with fully integrated cancer services is going to be as good as anyone else in regional Australia, and possibly any regional city in the world,’’ he said.

Ms Chamberlin reiterated Mr Drum’s comments about future prosperity in the region.

‘‘I think this is stage one of a very exciting integrated cancer journey for the Goulburn Valley Health community,’’ she said.

‘‘This is very exciting and there are exciting times to come.’’

Ms Chamberlin also said discussions were in place to extend the treatment facilities to public health patients in addition the private health patients.

GenesisCare currently offers radiotherapy treatment services in Albury Wodonga and Melbourne, with another organisation running the treatment centre in Bendigo.

Ms Lovell commended the work of GenesisCare, emphasising the importance of a regional centre to alleviate the stress of travel during a patient’s cancer battle.

‘‘Having the services here will be a great boost for our community,’’ she said.

Cr O’Keeffe said the centre would change the lives of many in the community.

‘‘This is a health necessity that we haven’t had, so we are so grateful and so looking forward to people being able to cope better at such a tragic time,’’ she said.

‘‘Our community is going to have the care that they need and that they deserve,’’ she said.

The new centre is set to open before Christmas, creating 20 new jobs.