Dry July Saves Lives

PHOTO: Acting Nurse Unit Manager Rebecca Johnson chats with leukaemia patient Jim Colbert while he rests in a treatment chair.

A MONTH off the booze for 65 Far North fundraisers will mean earlier diagnosis for some cancer patients in the region.

Not only that, but since the Liz Plummer Cancer Centre started using the CADD pumps that the Dry July fundraisers helped buy more of, they have saved more than 300 inpatient bed days and $240,000 in drug costs to the hospital.

The Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation received $28,905 in funding from Dry July, enabling the purchase of a treatment chair for the oncology day unit, six chemotherapy pumps for administering chemotherapy at home and a moisture meter to measure swelling in some cancer patients.

Liz Plummer Cancer Centre advanced pharmacist Jason Black said CADD chemotherapy administration pumps make a huge difference to the patient experience.

“The use of these pumps allow patients to be treated at home rather than have to come into hospital for several days. I actually had no idea how big an impact they would have, until I had one patient who had booked in to see a psychologist and arranged to take anti-depressants because the hospital experience can be so intense. We administered his chemotherapy using the CADD pump and treated him as an outpatient. He told me his experience was vastly improved and didn’t require any of his psychology interventions anymore. They help allow the hospital to keep inpatient beds for patients who most need them.”

A moisture meter which also has been bought, allows staff to assess swelling in patients with breast and head/neck lymphoedema. Liz Plummer Cancer Care acting advanced oncology occupational therapist Caitlin Ryan said they had not previously been able to offer this service.

“The ability to obtain these measurements will allow our therapists to not only detect these conditions earlier for our clients, but provide more accurate assessment of their swelling over time and between therapists. This in turn will ensure any increases in swelling can be detected earlier and addressed promptly to ensure the best possible outcome for these clients. I would like to sincerely thank the Foundation and the local community who have worked so hard to raise the funds required to purchase this moisture meter for our clinic.”

In addition, another treatment chair has been bought for the oncology day unit.

Oncology Day Unit acting Nurse Unit Manager Rebecca Johnson said patients often spend long hours in the chairs receiving treatment, and it was important they feel comfortable during their stay. “The treatment chair is also extremely practical for staff, who are required to perform tasks at various heights, as the chair is fully automatic and allows the patient to recline in various positions. The funding that was raised from the community during your Dry July campaign has certainly been put to good use,” Ms Johnson said.

Foundation CEO Tony Franz said the Foundation had received more than $130,000 from Dry July since 2012, and it was rewarding to know it was going directly to help those who needed it.

“We've all been affected by cancer in some way but Dry July is an easy and fun way for people to fundraise with their friends to make a difference – potentially to their friends' lives,” Mr Franz said.

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Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation

$11,031.58 raised