Cancer clinic still supporting patients during COVID-19
Published at: 14 Aug 2020
SINCE OPENING IN EARLY MAY LAST YEAR, GV HEALTH’S SYMPTOM AND URGENT REVIEW CLINIC (SURC) AT THE PETER COPULOS CANCER & WELLNESS CENTRE HAS SUPPORTED SEVERAL PATIENTS THROUGH THEIR TREATMENT JOURNEY. THINGS HAVE ONLY FURTHER RAMPED UP DURING COVID-19 WITH MANY CONSULTATIONS MOVING TO TELEHEALTH.
While GV Health’s SURC has seen a reduced number of outpatients during COVID-19, SURC nurse Kirsty Cole said it was experiencing a different kind of busyness.
“Our reduction in outpatients has been equally replaced with telehealth inquiries and consultations,” she said.
The clinic treats oncology patients when it comes to the symptoms associated with cancer therapies.
‘‘The idea behind the clinic is to improve the care of patients while undergoing treatment for cancer,’’ Ms Cole said.
‘‘It provides a single point of contact for patients and carers to access support for toxicities experienced through cancer therapy.
“Our aim is to keep people as well as possible.
“We’re here for patients to be able to continue to live their lives.”
Ms Cole stressed the service was still available and telehealth was ensuring consultations were as safe as possible.
“The establishment of telehealth for the SURC has revolutionised the way they do things,” she said.
She explained that prior to treatment beginning, patients and their family or carers would receive education.
“Our education room has a two-person limit, but we want family and carers to be here with them,” she said.
Ms Cole said telehealth had allowed them to provide education with a family member or carer present which was important due to the often overwhelming information provided.
Patients are encouraged to call the service if they experience any side effects associated with their disease or treatment including a temperature of 38 degrees or greater; diarrhoea/constipation; nausea/vomiting; difficulty passing urine; new/ uncontrolled or persistent pain; skin rash; mouth ulcers; acid reflux/ indigestion; cough; shortness of breath; tiredness/fatigue and/or issues with central venous access devices.
“There’s lots of ways we can help to manage symptoms early on and we can combat the side effects of treatments,” Ms Cole said.
SURC nurse Tunya Jarvis said telehealth had been fantastic during COVID-19 as their patients were vulnerable and they wanted them to visit the health service as little as possible.
“It’s really helpful because sometimes just putting your eyes on someone can be beneficial,” she said.
Ms Jarvis also highlighted the fact telehealth was incredibly helpful for patients who travel quite a distance to visit GV Health, particularly those located in New South Wales due to the current border closure as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
Ms Jarvis said the process of using telehealth was simple.
Patients simply need a smartphone and are sent a link which they can click on which brings up a video conference call with one of the SURC nurses.
“The doctors here have their own version as well,” she said.
• The Symptom and Urgent Review Clinic is open from 8.30 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. It is located at Peter Copulos Cancer & Wellness Centre, Graham St, Shepparton. The service is free for GV Health oncology patients.
Patient grateful for service
GV Health Symptom and Urgent Review Clinic patient Kevin Collins spoke highly of the service.
“They are good support when you’re having trouble and you’re not sure about something,” he said.
Mr Collins began treatment at the Peter Copulos Cancer & Wellness Centre in early April last year and said it had been great having the SURC nurses to lean on.
“They know what medications you need to take at what time,” he said.
“And you can reach out to them when you’re just not feeling quite right.”
He said it had been a huge support to him throughout his entire treatment.