Wollongong Hospital

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Wollongong Hospital is home to both the Illawarra Cancer Care Centre and Oncology/Haematology Inpatient Ward. Our teams provide treatment and support services to patients residing in the Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama regions.

Every year our Illawarra and Shoalhaven teams collectively treat over 65,000 patients.

Latest Updates

Wollongong Hospital launch their Living Fully with the Cancer Experience sessions virtually

With face to face sessions cancelled due to the pandemic, our Clinical Psychology team worked to reinvent our Living Fully with the Cancer Experience sessions, designed for patients who have completed their treatment. We were so excited to launch our six week pilot program, virtually, in October 2021!

Classes were capped at eight participants to ensure an intimate experience. Psychologists Susan and Donna described the sessions as ‘therapeutic, rather than supportive in style, covering a range of themes to help reduce stress, facilitate coping, and encourage participants to engage more fully in their life despite uncertainty and distress”

To truly immerse themselves in the sessions, each participant received a carefully curated Dry July funded self-care pack delivered to their home. The pack included a yoga mat, journal and pen, massage ball set, high end tea set, organic hand cream and lip balm and a sensory glitter liquid timer tube.

One patient described receiving the pack, ‘I felt good unpacking it. Like someone cared and was thinking about thoughtful things to make me happy. I love the journal. I think it is a good idea to get thoughts, feelings and ideas down in. I wouldn’t change a thing. I think everything was very carefully handpicked.’

The sessions are a great example of cancer services staff persisting in difficult times to meet the needs of patients. With the support of Dry July, the program will run multiple times again in 2022 and has expanded to include a one day early diagnosis workshop, focused on education, validation and normalisation and how the nervous system reacts to crisis and trauma and how to work with it.

Knowing this was a Dry July funded initiative, we asked patients if they are likely to participate or donate to the Dry July campaign in 2022. We were so very pleased with this response, which we found heart-warming ‘I did it this year! I raised over $1000 for Wollongong Hospital/Illawarra Cancer Care Centre and I intend to again this year!’

Thanks to your Dry July fundraising, Wollongong Hospital can help increase the comfort and wellbeing of people affected by cancer

We are extremely grateful and very keen to share with you the 11 initiatives we can now deliver for our patients.

Our ‘While You’re Here’ theme focuses on increasing comfort and wellbeing to reduce patient anxiety during treatment and we will direct funds to;

1. Introduce Pet Therapy in the Centre and the Ward (pending approval/restrictions)

2. Investigate designing and creating specialised Porta Cath accessible t-shirts

3. Purchase a blanket warmer for our Oncology/Haematology Ward

4. Purchase a patient weigh chair for our Centre

5. Supply High End Tea, Coffee and Hot Chocolate for patients and family/carers

6. Re-subscribe to continue personalised music selections during each radiation therapy treatment

7. Improve patient Wi-Fi in the Centre with an upgrade

8. Supply Mindfulness Activity books

9. Supply drink bottles and magnets to patients as a reminder to ‘Fill that Bladder’

Our ‘Reinvigorate our Space’ theme focuses on creating a relaxing, calm and ‘less-clinical’ environment (just like our patients asked!) and we will direct funds to;

1. Purchase artwork for the Radiation Therapy area in the Centre

2. Provide artificial flower arrangements throughout the Centre

On behalf of all the staff and patients at Wollongong Hospital/Illawarra Cancer Care Centre thank you for your commitment and effort in making a positive difference in the lives of people living with cancer.

Doesn’t Peters treatment chair look great! Proudly purchased by Wollongong Hospital with Dry July donations.

Peter is receiving innovative cancer treatment as part of an international clinical trial that is delivered close to home at Wollongong Hospital.

“Going to Sydney for a specialist appointment was a burden on top of the illness. When I was told there were great haematologists at Wollongong Hospital, I was happy to give up the commute. A simple appointment in Sydney took the whole day, but now I can drive 20 minutes up the road for an appointment and I can even get my clinical treatment and be home just after lunch,” Peter said.

Taking part in a clinical trial means a patient can receive the best possible care at the same time as adding to valuable research information to improve future cancer treatments.

“I’ve been well guided through the whole process and I’ve been closely monitored, so I know everything is on track. Now that I’ve retired, I have so much to look forward to and my treatment plan means I can get back to it.” And getting “back to retirement’’ for Peter includes plans to check out The Birdsville Races and the Henley on Todd Regatta later this year!

There are currently more than 70 clinical trials underway throughout our hospitals.

For more information about clinical trials in cancer services, diabetes, surgery, chronic pain, renal, gastroenterology and palliative care, speak to your specialist or contact us at [email protected]

Doesn’t Peters treatment chair look great! Proudly purchased by Wollongong Hospital with Dry July donations. Get on board and donate to this years team here

Head to Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Facebook page for the original Facebook post. 

Thanks to Dry July funding, Illawarra's Cancer Care Centre main reception and wait space have had an incredible transformation

Reinvigorate Our Space – Illawarra Cancer Care Centre - Main Reception and Wait Spaces

In 2017, we launched the ‘Bright Ideas’ campaign. We engaged our patients, staff and volunteers via a survey asking how we could make the patient experience a better one. The feedback we received was direct, powerful, effective and clearly identified for us the needs and wants of our patients. A standout was the overwhelming response that told us our space was dated, clinical and uncomfortable. Patients told us that sitting on plastic chairs lined in a row made them feel like they were awaiting sentencing – and that our seats are uncomfortable! They expressed that our clinical and cold feeling waiting areas only encouraged feelings of anxiety and fear about their cancer treatment.

Our Centre is always clean, well maintained and functional however there had been minimal changes to the design and furnishings since its opening in 1991. While we autonomously and enthusiastically advocate for high quality treatment for our patients we had overlooked how we were presenting our spaces and the flow on affect it had to patient wellbeing. As staff members it wasn’t a matter of ignoring the plastic seating lined up in a row, it was simply that we didn’t sit there while waiting for a life changing appointment.
We now knew that as patients entered our building, be it for the first time or for their fifteenth appointment, we wanted our facility to inspire a feeling of “You are welcome here and we care about you”.

From that point we directed a percentage of 2017-2019 Dry July fundraising to reinvigorating our space. We worked with an interior designer to create a main wait space that was social, while still accommodating for patients who wished to be alone. Patients told us they wanted a warmer environment with softer décor and visual improvements. We began redesigning with a focus to reduce patient anxiety, enhance perceptions about quality of care, distinguish our facility from others, generate positive word-of-mouth within our community, and actually make the time spent waiting for appointments feel shorter than it actually is.

We purchased hospital grade and infection control approved soft furnishings, chairs, side tables and a dining table, art works and artificial plants. Painting was updated, lighting improved, window tinting installed and cosmetic façade upgrades completed to kitchenette and main reception. To come is joinery designed to create the feeling of nature indoors and the redesign and relocating of our NSW Cancer Council kiosk. We removed clutter and reorganised resources and signage to take full advantage of our amazing view of the Illawarra escarpment.

The improvements so far speak for themselves. We will now introduce the welcoming, uplifting and calming feeling to other areas of the centre by replicating this original design. Respecting the patient experience was at the heart of all we wanted to deliver. Improving on the hospitality we extend to our patients will provide them with a better experience that positively impacts their wellbeing.

Thank you to the Dry July Foundation who shared our vision and also supported us with patience. We could not have foreseen the challenges that arose which ultimately led to lengthy delays in delivery of this project. Dry July Foundation fundraising and successful grant applications for this project totalled $125K.

Thanks to our funding, Wollongong Hospital has been able to create bright, welcoming waiting areas

Our patients told us that that our clinical and cold feeling waiting areas only encouraged feelings of anxiety and fear about their cancer treatment. They suggested a warmer environment with softer décor and visual improvements.

We collaborated with the local Aboriginal community of Coomaditchie asking them to create a bright welcoming artwork for our patients and visitors. They created a unique piece for us with significant meaning.

The flame tree in the centre represents the Illawarra Cancer Care Centre. The petals around it in orange are all the people and the black lines leading to it are the roads people travel on to get here. The coloured circles represent the different colours of cancer. The butterflies and dragonflies represent eternal life. The green on the top background is the escarpment.

Now installed it is a great focal point on entry and we have received very positive feedback about how the artwork brightens the space.

We also knew our patients enjoyed a distraction when seated in the centre. We wanted to create the opportunity for patients to take a book from the book store, at no cost, and enjoy it.