Bendigo Health has partnered with a new initiative, TrialHub, to close the gap between city and regional delivery and access to potentially life-saving cancer treatments.
Based at Alfred Health, the Australian-first model TrialHub is working alongside regional and rural hospitals to identify gaps and opportunities to then work together in establishing, or improving, their own clinical trial centre.
Bendigo Health will join Latrobe Regional Hospital and Rosebud Hospital as pilot sites for the program.
Specifically, Bendigo Health and TrialHub have teamed up on a workforce development program, which includes a fellowship mentoring program and a clinical trial pharmacy program.
Clinical Trial Pharmacist, Mark Dewhurst, and Oncology Trials Fellow Chloe Georgiou are the first to participate in the workforce development programs.
Bendigo Health Clinical Director Cancer Services Robert Blum said this program is about cementing the hospital's skillset and workforce.
Dr Blum said it would increase clinical trials capacity, and attract and take on new trials in order to become a regional hub for clinical trials.
"While we've been delivering clinical trials for some time, we have never formalised the structure and gaps to become a completely independent trial unit before," he said.
"This is about improving structural and skill gaps to take us to the next level but it also provides our staff an opportunity to specialise in clinical trials without having to leave the region."
Dr Blum said at Bendigo Health they had amazing staff who wanted to specialise in clinical trials and this program would enable that.
"Chloe is our first fellow and dedicated clinical trials oncologist, and Mark has now formalised his clinical pharmacy training thanks to the TrialHub pharmacy train-the-trainer program," he said.
TrialHub's model works by having a metro hospital, Alfred Health, partnering with regional and rural hospitals to leverage its long-standing clinical trial portfolio.
Alfred Health has around 300 clinical trials open across 14 disease disciplines and most of them have a medication component.
Both Chloe and Mark have been matched with clinical trial experts from Alfred Health, where they receive on-going training and development opportunities and mentoring.
Oncology Trials Fellow Chloe Georgiou said residents could now access many different trials in Bendigo which meant they wouldn't have to travel to Melbourne.
"We have always been championing for that and the closer people can have treatment at home is the better," she said.
"It has never been more evident than in the past 12 to 18 months.
"The fact that we can have treatment nearby and there is no risk for people travelling to areas with COVID is important, we can also collaborate with other region sites and combine our resources."
This investment is through the Federal Government's Community Health and Hospitals Program.
More information about the TrialHub initiative, go to https://www.alfredhealth.org.au/trialhub
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