Gympie cancer patients benefitting from face-to-face pharmacy support

Read time

Gympie Hospital Pharmacist Ben Newman and patient Stuart Gooddy

Gympie Hospital Pharmacist Ben Newman and patient Stuart Gooddy

A Gympie Hospital pharmacy initiative is allowing cancer patients access to a specialised oncology pharmacist to provide timely medication advice face-to-face.

The Pharmacy team has recently expanded to include a Senior Cancer Care Pharmacist and a Cancer Care Pharmacy Assistant. Previously, patients had to access this service remotely from the Cancer Care Unit at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH).

The new, on-site service provides support to nursing and medical staff, and provides education and counselling to patients taking oral or intravenous chemotherapy drugs.

“Patients now have access to a full-time Cancer Care Pharmacist to help improve timely access to medicine information. Having a dedicated position allows for closer monitoring and follow up with patients. This is especially beneficial for patients who have complicated medication regimes,” Gympie Hospital Pharmacist Ben Newman said.

Gympie Cancer Care operates a full chemotherapy and immunotherapy service to local patients Monday to Friday. Each day, around 15 to 20 patients receive a clinical verification of medication, which checks the chemotherapy order is correct according to the treatment protocol.

Around six patients per day have a face-to-face interaction with a pharmacist, this might include a new chemotherapy patient, a patient with a complex medication regime or a patient experiencing side effects.

“Face-to-face interaction allows us to obtain an accurate medication history to check for drug interactions or medication related issues and treatments. It also allows us to counsel patients on their ‘take home’ medications, including how and when to take them and indications for therapy,” Mr Newman said.

The new service has been embraced by local patients, with the number of patients receiving documented medication lists increasing from 28 patients to 168 patients since the service commenced in July 2022.

The team hopes to expand this level of pharmacy support to patients in the community who are prescribed oral chemotherapy. This is another high-risk group of patients who will benefit from regular interactions with a Cancer Care Pharmacist.

Stuart Gooddy’s story:

Pomona man Stuart Gooddy was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2010 – a cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow. He currently receives treatment at Gympie Hospital, and benefits from having the Senior Cancer Care Pharmacist on site.

“It’s terrific. When I started on the daratumumab (Stuart’s current treatment) Ben the pharmacist came down and saw me and wrote down everything that I take whether it be a vitamin or whether it be a prescription medication and he went back and checked to make sure there were going to be no interactions with the daratumumab. That sort of service, I’ve never experienced that in a big metropolitan hospital.”

“It’s been great, any issues that I have or anything that I require if it’s out of the norm, then they’ll talk me through it and say yes, we can do this or no we can’t. It’s just that personalisation that you’re not a number, you are actually a person.”