Turning the dream into a reality -
Chris O'Brien Lifehouse opens to patients 5 November 2013
When much-loved Sydney cancer specialist Professor Chris O’Brien was diagnosed with an aggressive tumour it was the start of an incredible journey which opened his eyes to the disease from a patient’s perspective and drove him to fight even harder for improved services. Chris and his colleagues shared a vision to create a patient-centred, world-class comprehensive cancer centre in Sydney. Now that dream is becoming a reality.
This month Chris O’Brien Lifehouse will begin to treat patients. The Lifehouse mission is to improve the quality of life of cancer patients, carers and their families by advancing the diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of the disease and the opening of the state-of-the-art facility in Camperdown marks a new era of cancer care in Australia.
Outpatient services including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and clinics for cancers including breast, gynaecological, bone and soft tissue and head and neck, will open to patients from November 19.
The Lifehouse LivingRoom, a purpose-built integrative medicine centre will also open - providing supportive services, education and complementary therapy treatments that can be used in partnership with clinical care to help relieve stress, reduce pain and anxiety and manage symptoms.
Lifehouse will also provide surgery, in-patient beds and an Intensive Care Unit, from 2014/15.
Lifehouse CEO Tim Dugan said: “We are thrilled to be turning our vision of providing uncompromising care into a reality.
“Our staff, Board, partners - including builder Brookfield Multiplex, project managers Capital Insight and architects Rice Daubney - and our supporters all deserve to feel extremely proud of what has been achieved.
“Not only have we built a fantastic new facility, we ultimately aim to create a shift in healthcare culture where the patient is at the heart of everything we do.”
Making the cancer journey as easy as it can be has influenced the design of the building, as well as services and the model of care. At Lifehouse, everything a patient needs will be in one place, including allied health, complementary therapies and emotional support.
Professor Michael Boyer, Lifehouse Chief Clinical Officer, said: “Integrated cancer centres are recognised around the world as a model that provides the best possible outcomes for people living with cancer, as well as the most meaningful advances in research and education.
“Some of the benefits include reduced time from diagnosis to the start of treatment, enhanced training for cancer specialists, researchers and medical staff and increased access to clinical trials.”
The purpose-built $260 million Lifehouse facility is located alongside Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Sydney University, Camperdown, and there will be a strong focus on medical research and educating future generations of cancer clinicians.
Gail O’Brien, Lifehouse Board member and Chris’ wife said: “After watching someone you love die from cancer, there is no greater cause to fight for.
“This facility will create generational change to ensure others won’t have to endure the same experience, particularly in the emerging area of integrative medicine. There is an incredible sense of joy in knowing that the difference in the future will be Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.”
Dr Teresa Anderson, Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive added: “The new facility will integrate research, teaching and clinical practice and is the culmination of many years of hard work, dedication and commitment by staff of the District, the Ministry of Health and Lifehouse to providing the best cancer services possible.
“Professor Chris O’Brien was a much loved and highly respected RPA clinician and he would be very proud of the work we have achieved together for the benefit of cancer patients.”
Inspired by world best practice, medical professionals and the board of Royal Prince Alfred’s Sydney Cancer Centre committed to setting up a comprehensive cancer facility in the late 1990s.
The project, led by Professor Chris O’Brien and Professor Michael Boyer, took on new impetus when Chris was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in 2006. He transformed his personal adversity into a national opportunity, using his experience to fight so much harder for cancer patients and their families.
Following commitments of funding from the State and Federal Governments, Lifehouse was officially launched in April 2009 and construction began in December that year.
Lifehouse occupies a purpose-built, nine-storey facility on the RPA/Sydney University campus in Camperdown, designed by architects Rice Daubney and constructed by Brookfield Multiplex.
The project has been financed by a combination of Government funding, donations, investment income, charitable bonds* and a grant from Sydney University.
Lifehouse is a not-for-profit public benevolent institution that will treat public and private patients. We have no shareholders and income will be reinvested for the benefit of our patients.
A registered charity, Lifehouse relies on fund raising to achieve the vision of world class care in a state-of-the-art facility, providing equipment and services over and above those covered by operational budgets.