Final hurdle for Algarve’s radiotherapy unit

news: Final hurdle for Algarve’s radiotherapy unit

THE NEW radiotherapy unit in Faro, that has only become a reality due to the hard work and perseverance of charitable organisation, Associação Oncológica do Algarve (AOA), is now only missing its licence from Faro Câmara.

A vistoria (inspection) needs to be carried out by the câmara’s technicians before the licence can be issued, but, once this is done, the medical equipment can be installed, staff can begin working and the centre can open its doors and welcome in the first patients.

Once again, bureaucracy is standing in the way of this important health project that has continuously found itself the unfortunate victim of politics, suffering an unbelievable number of setbacks.The AOA is in contact with Faro Câmara and hopes the licence will be granted soon, so that the unit can start providing vital radiotherapy treatment for cancer sufferers in the Algarve.

“It appears that the radiotherapy unit will open in June, however, after struggling for five years, I don’t want to be over optimistic because I just don’t know for sure if this will be the case,” said Dr. Santos Pereira, president of AOA. Recent developments, though, do point to the process having reached “the home stretch”.

Modern design

The radiotherapy unit building, which is situated in the residential area of Vale de Carneiros, boasts a very modern, simple, clean design. It is light and airy, with lots of windows and glass panels, and has clearly been designed to offer patients and their accompanying family members every possible comfort.

“It was our concern that the building would be designed in such a way that as much natural daylight would be allowed in as possible, because we felt this would encourage a feeling of optimism among patients and their families, and the unit’s staff. We have tried to make the centre as welcoming, attractive and comfortable as possible,” Dr Pereira told The Resident.

Comprehensive facilities

The building is a cream colour and is on just one level. There is ample parking around the centre, a special entrance for ambulances and a ramp for stretchers and wheelchairs. On entering the building, a modern reception desk can be found which adjoins a spacious waiting area, and a coffee bar that will serve drinks and snacks.

The whole building is open-plan. Patient waiting areas are divided by attractive glass panels and enjoy a view of a small interior garden through a floor to ceiling glass window. The large radiotherapy treatment room has walls and a ceiling that are 1.8 metres thick and a metal door that weighs 2.5 tons. These characteristics are important in order to meet safety specifications. The unit also has a computerised tomography room (TAC), three consulting rooms and a nurses’ area. There is a small medicine room, a meeting room and several state-of-the-art bathrooms.

Opening is much anticipated

Dr. Rui Dessa, who will be co-ordinating the radiotherapy unit’s medical team, is extremely eager to start work at the centre and is, therefore, desperate for the licence to be granted so the doors can be opened. He is reportedly very impressed with the facilities as are many other medical experts who have visited the new unit.

Major breakthrough for the Algarve

The AOA’s radiotherapy unit in Faro represents a major breakthrough in terms of the availability of treatment for cancer sufferers in the Algarve. The centre will provide radiotherapy treatment for all those who need it and will receive all patients that are referred by the region’s hospitals and health centres. There are no restrictions or limiting private agreements in place.

A radiotherapy centre

has been long overdue

At the present time, cancer patients in the Algarve and the Alentejo are forced to travel to Lisbon for radiotherapy treatment in a bid to beat their disease, but even that’s only if they are lucky enough to reach the top of the waiting list. There are 200 new cancer cases in the Algarve every year and scores of existing sufferers trying to fight the disease, so the building of a radiotherapy unit in the Algarve has been long overdue.

“Many patients don’t want to leave their homes, they don’t receive treatment and so mortality rates are high – it is very sad,” said Dr. Pereira.Hopefully, once the unit opens in a couple of months, it can turn things around and make a real difference. This is the AOA’s dream – to fight the war against cancer. Caroline Cunha