Cancer Care Western NSW
A 2006 study by the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA) found there were marked deficiencies in cancer services in rural and regional areas of Australia and that the quality and availability of services directly influenced survival rates. Cancer Care Western NSW is redressing the balance through the ongoing development of Western Care Lodge in Orange, a four star self-care accommodation facility for adults undergoing cancer treatment.
Western Care Lodge provides an invaluable health care service that extends far beyond the practicalities of accommodation. By creating an affordable “home away from home” environment for patients and their carers, the Lodge contributes significantly their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing. The Lodge is used primarily by people residing outside of Orange in the smaller towns and communities across regional NSW.
Jan Savage, Cancer Care West’s Regional Coordinator of Fundraising and Marketing, and tireless volunteer, believes the positive effect Western Care Lodge has on patient treatment is immense.
“The treating people are interacting with the patients and everyone is friendly and forming connections that are vital to health outcomes,” she says. “Patients can go home on weekends, they can travel on country roads and drive with safety, they are close enough for family to visit. It becomes a home away from home for many.”
Western Care Lodge opened its first 14 twin ensuite rooms in 2011, just five years after its governing body, Cancer Care Western NSW, was established. The Lodge incorporates communal dining, kitchen, lounge, library and laundry areas. Courtyards and landscaped gardens provide therapeutic, relaxing outdoor spaces.
Between 2006 and 2011, an alliance of motivated citizens, health professionals, MPs and councils achieved the mammoth task of co-ordinating the fundraising and construction of the Lodge, specifically designed to work in conjunction with new treatment facilities at the new Orange Base Hospital.
“We have come a long way,” Jan says. “There was need for the service to be fast tracked to the new hospital. This was the most opportune time for action and reaction.”
Within months of opening, Western Care Lodge was operating at capacity, prompting a renewed fundraising and lobbying campaign to establish Phase Two of the project – an additional eight ensuite rooms at an estimated cost of $1.4 million. Construction of Phase Two commenced in July 2013 and is expected to be complete in early 2014.
Donations have come from across the region, from individuals, clubs, schools, businesses, local government, the NSW Cancer Council and federal government. In 2009, Mayor of Orange and Patron of Cancer Care Western NSW, John Davis, with his friend Murray Horstman and brother, Terry Davis, instigated the annual “Cruisin- Along” fundraising trek, driving through areas that directly benefit from radiotherapy at the Orange Health Service and accommodation at Western Care Lodge. To date, Cruisin-Along has raised over $400,000 for Western Care Lodge, and has had a lot of fun along the way.
In the meantime, Jan Savage and the dedicated board and volunteers at Cancer Care Western NSW, continue to lobby for quality care and facilities for regional NSW.
“I am passionate about rural health,” Jan says. “I see the inequities faced by rural people. I am acutely aware of the socioeconomic circumstances that impact on many rural people, this impacts on their ability to undergo appropriate treatment when required, or to even undertake basic diagnostic intervention that could save their lives.”
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia. One in two Australian men and one in three Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.
Find more information about Cancer Care Western NSW and Western Care Lodge at www.ccwest.org.au
Support Cruisin-Along at www.cruisin-along.org.au