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Oncology Department opens at St Bernard’s Hospital

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

St Bernard’s Hospital’s new Oncology Department was formally opened by the Director of the GHA, Professor Patrick Geoghegan, and the Minister for Health, Albert Isola, on Friday afternoon.

The new space will aid in the treatment of cancer patients in Gibraltar.

Inside the department, the walls are adorned with butterflies and inspirational words, in a bid to bring some relaxation and calming influence for patients with cancer, and their families.

Addressing those present, Prof Geoghegan said that the new area would be a place where people could come when undergoing chemotherapy, and relax, and prepare.

In addition, people can have family or members of their support network with them and where they can “feel cared for.”

“We are a caring organisation, we are here for people from the very beginning to the very end and in between,” he said.

“And I have to say, I've worked in many countries, and I've met many fantastic people. But the people you have here working within your oncology services are absolutely superb.”

Also present were representatives from various cancer charities in Gibraltar, such as Cancer Relief Centre Gibraltar, Pancreatic Cancer Gibraltar and Breast Cancer Support Gibraltar, who have been campaigning for the unit since 2017.

He highlighted the work that David Ballesteros, oncologist and clinical director for cancer services, and Sandie Garcia, director of nursing, undertook to help turn the area into the positive, nicely decorated space it is.

“I can't tell you the mountain of work that's gone on in this room,” he said.

“And it wasn't done by industrials, it was done by Sandie and others in the evening, lifting furniture, getting it painted, buying stuff out of their own pockets, bring it in here so we can make it homely.”

Mr Isola thanked everyone who contributed in one way or another to getting the suite ready, stating that it demonstrates a determination to provide better services.

“The GHA is about providing a service and the better the quality of the service that we can provide, the better that our patients will feel in receiving that service,” he said.

“Those of you who are receiving the benefit of the service from this unit will know where you used to get it before and will appreciate the difference in the change.”

“Where others would have had these views, perhaps as offices, you were put in rather uncomfortable and cramped conditions elsewhere. I'm pleased to say that this is just the first step of how we deal with oncology.”

He also noted that the works on the new chemotherapy unit are expected to be completed early next year.

“We are focused on you, we are focused on making the receipt of that service as comfortable and as good as we could possibly make it,” he said.

“And that's why, for me, this is so pleasing to see the first of many more steps, not just in this, but in other areas where we can demonstrate to you that we care about the service that we provide.”

“Put the patients at the front end of the care that we provide and, perhaps, put ourselves further down the food chain in terms of nice views and nice spaces and have the patients having prime cut, which is exactly what we've done here.”

Prof Geoghegan also gave special thanks to Margaret Ayling who has been a benefactor for cancer services in Gibraltar.

A painting of her parents by artist Leslie Gaduzo hangs in the unit.

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