Care closer to home for Gladstone radiation therapy patients

Read time

Transport officers Karen Houlahan and Stephen Schofield.

Transport officers Karen Houlahan and Stephen Schofield.

Gladstone Hospital’s Radiation Oncology Satellite Telehealth Service is providing care closer to home for local cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.

The service provides a nurse-led telehealth clinic at Gladstone Hospital’s West Wing and a shuttle bus service to radiation therapy appointments at GenesisCare, Rockhampton Hospital.

“No-one chooses the cancer journey, so it’s important patients have a trusted team of people doing our best to make things easier for them,” Clinical Nurse Consultant Elke Goransson said.

“Our medical suite is a comfortable space for radiotherapy patients to access support from a highly-skilled nursing team and to attend appointments with their oncologist, either face-to-face or via telehealth.

“The shuttle bus not only reduces the travel burden for people who may be feeling tired or stressed after their treatment but is also delivering some wonderful extra benefits.

“Our patients are telling us the bus trip is like a mobile support group, allowing them to connect with other people experiencing a similar health journey.

“There’s a real camaraderie between patients and with the two amazing bus drivers who share the role. Patients just love them – we hear they take turns to sit up front so they can enjoy a chat with the driver.”

Transport officers Stephen Schofield and Karen Houlahan have a unique set of skills and life experiences that make them a perfect fit for the role.

Stephen was previously employed by Alpha Hospital, located in the Central West HHS, between Emerald and Barcaldine.

“I drove the ambulance for Alpha Hospital, which is one of a few facilities to have a hospital-based ambulance,” Stephen said.

“It gave me a good understanding of patient care during transport, so I constantly check how they’re feeling as we travel.”

Karen has most recently worked as a disability support worker, but also in mining, including driving the massive Liebherr T282 dump trucks at Millennium coal mine near Moranbah.

“I’m used to driving larger vehicles, so driving a 10-seater bus isn’t an issue,” Karen laughed.

“And I really enjoy the interactions with the patients – they are all interesting to talk to and we have some great conversations.”

The Radiation Oncology Satellite Telehealth Service is located in Medical Suite 3 at the West Wing and is Commonwealth funded until June 2025.