Fundraiser aims to find home for Solaris Great Southern clinic to bring back cancer services

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Email Shannon Smith
Solaris Care Great Southern Client Services manager Gillian Robertson.
Camera IconSolaris Care Great Southern Client Services manager Gillian Robertson. Credit: Shannon Smith

Finding Solaris Great Southern a new home is the focus of cancer support agency Solaris Cancer Care’s annual May We Thrive fundraising campaign.

The centre previously operated out of Albany Health Campus, but it has reduced its services after being forced out late last year as the hospital expanded.

After closing on March 18 to protect its clients during the COVID-19 crisis, plans to resume operations were shot down when the foundation was told there was no longer room for the centre at the campus.

“We received the unfortunate news the hospital didn’t have room due to increased funding for new staff,” Solaris founder Dr David Joske said in December.

“While we are delighted, of course, that mainstream cancer treatment staffing and resources are being expanded in the Great Southern region, unfortunately this has left us homeless.”

This week, Solaris Cancer Care chief executive officer Francis Lynch said their May fundraiser had a target of $150,000 to bring their services to as many people in the region as possible.

“This year we especially need your support to bring our Great Southern clinic back to full capacity so we can continue our support for Albany’s most vulnerable people,” he said.

“Solaris supports the most vulnerable people in our community.

“We have people in Albany that need our help, but we are limited in what we can do without new premises for our clinic.”

Our January 7 front page.
Camera IconOur January 7 front page.

Mr Lynch said finding an appropriate building for the clinic was difficult, with the need for at least three treatment rooms and good parking.

“We need to take into account appropriate zoning for our use, suitable parking, disability access, and being accessible to people all around Albany,” he said.

“A year has passed (since COVID-19 closures) where new people diagnosed with cancer in Albany have not been able to start complementary treatments, and they are really feeling it.

“Once we find a home, our team will be ready to provide as many support services as possible to help people through the most difficult journey of their lives.”

He said Solaris was bracing for a jump in demand for its services after COVID-19 disruptions.

The disruptions and the closure of its office led to free Solaris support treatments in the Great Southern falling from 2181 in 2019 to just 648 last year.

“We expect that over the next year demand for our services will skyrocket as people go back for their medical check-ups and find cancer is present,” he said.

Visit solariscancercare.org.au/get-involved/may-we-thrive.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails