• A new acute mental health unit at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital will begin operations next month.
• The State Government has committed an additional six months of funding for an Indigenous health service in Mount Isa in north-west Queensland.
• In a new cancer trial, oncologists in the US will prescribe treatment based on the genetic mutations of a patient’s cancer, not the type of cancer itself.
The Health news on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 4th June 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
A new acute mental health unit at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital will begin operations next month.
The $31 million unit was officially opened by Mental Health Minister Helen Morton …and will be the hospital’s first authorised facility to handle involuntary patients with complex, acute mental illnesses.
The new unit, to replace the hospital’s aging existing ward known as D20, will handle up to 700 patients a year, and has been purpose-built.
It is authorised to admit involuntary patients, streamlining the treatment of people with mental illnesses presenting at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital’s busy emergency department.
In the past, patients have had to wait more than 30 hours to be transferred to a secure facility like Graylands Hospital.
Ms Morton said the addition of the new mental health unit provided another important link in a chain of treatments for people with mental illness presenting at the hospital.
“It means that there is a complete throughput of services from the emergency department to the mental health observation unit, to the mental health unit, and being able to get that high level, secure care, if necessary, involuntary care,” she said.
Inside the mental health unit, patients have access to a secure outdoor recreation area, a gym and dining areas.
Every area of the facility has been designed to prevent self-harm and protect patient safety.
Ms Morton said the new unit was the latest in a series of improved mental health services and facilities.
A mental health observation area established at hospital allowed patients to remain for up to 72 hours after their initial treatment in the emergency department, and improved inter-hospital transport had dramatically reduced the 30 hour waiting times for mental health patients.
The State Government has committed an additional six months of funding for an Indigenous health service in Mount Isa in north-west Queensland.
The Ngukuthati Children and Family Centre was tipped to close at the end of this month, due to a lack of financial support.
Manager Monica Thomas said she was relieved funding had been secured until the end of the year but said she was still concerned about the longer term future.
“It honestly feels like a stay of execution because this has now been going on for nearly 18 months,” she said.
“They were funded till June 2014 … 12 month extension till June 2015 … six months extensions … it means we can continue operating, it’s not ideal though.
“Everyone, especially in remote communities, needs more than six months’ job security.”
She said she was grateful for the Government’s renewed support but said it was not enough.
“The issues that we’re dealing with in our communities didn’t develop in six months, they’re generational,” she said.
In a new cancer trial, oncologists in the US will prescribe treatment based on the genetic mutations of a patient’s cancer, not the type of cancer itself.
National Cancer Institute (NCI), based in the US, announced the trial at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.
“This is really the first time in a very large way that patients will be screened for mutation irrespective of the site of origin of their tumour,” NCI deputy director James Doroshow said.
“And feed it with a drug that is presumed to be effective against that particularly molecular change.”
NCI said the trial would involve around 1,000 patients who have cancer in advanced stages and who have already tried standard treatments such as chemotherapy.
They will either be given experimental drugs not available on the market, or medicine approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) that is currently used for other purposes.
Dr Doroshow said they expected to find new mutations that have never been described before in diseases.
The trial is described as a form of “precision medicine” in which therapies and preventative measures are more tailored to the individual patient.
Researchers say the trial will help determine some of the benefits of precision medicine for cancer patients.
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