An award-winning pharmacy team describes how they delivered chemotherapy to patients during the pandemic
The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) TeleChemotherapy Pharmacy team has received national recognition from the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) for its innovation in delivering anticancer treatment to country communities despite COVID-19 challenges.
The SHPA Hospital Team Innovation of the Year award acknowledges the WACHS TeleChemotherapy Pharmacy team’s effort to establish specialist cancer pharmacy services for patients receiving treatment at Broome Hospital and Narrogin Hospital in record time, along with supporting the rapidly expanding TeleChemotherapy service at Karratha Health Campus.
Western Australia’s first TeleChemotherapy site commenced at Karratha Health Campus in October 2019, enabling some cancer patients to receive low-risk chemotherapy locally with the support of specialist metropolitan-based clinicians via telehealth.
WACHS Chief Pharmacist Adam Hort said the TeleChemotherapy Pharmacy team has a robust medication management program which supports the delivery of chemotherapy services to communities across the Kimberley, Pilbara and Wheatbelt regions.
“The team is very deserving of SHPA’s recognition, overcoming significant barriers to delivering chemotherapy services during COVID-19—including medication supply challenges and border closures,” Mr Hort said.
“Between January and June 2020, the WACHS TeleChemotherapy services delivered more than 100 cycles of chemotherapy to patients across the Kimberley, Pilbara and Wheatbelt.
“This helped more than 40 cancer patients receive some of their treatment close to home, removing the difficulty of travel, particularly when borders were closed.
“The travel restrictions in rural and remote WA as a result of COVID-19 made the rapid commencement of the TeleChemotherapy service in Broome and Narrogin even more vital to local cancer patients.”
Six WACHS pharmacists, along with their regional pharmacy teams, comprise the TeleChemotherapy Pharmacy team. Perth based senior cancer pharmacists verify the treatments for cancer patients, and the local pharmacy teams coordinate the logistics of getting the medicine on site and to the patient.
There were 15 pharmacy teams across Australia nominated for the SHPA award which celebrates “a pharmacist-led team which has undertaken a multi-disciplinary project, initiative or work which demonstrates or promises measurable impact on quality use of medicines, patient care, and/or staff wellbeing”.