WHEN recurring illness takes over your life, and hospital feels like your second home, time is worth more than gold.
A new program at Ipswich Hospital is giving chronically ill people more of that most precious commodity: time.
Plainland man Ian Clements, who has terminal cancer, is one of the first people to go through the hospital’s new Medical Assessment and Planning Unit (MAPU).
Mr Clements, 51, was diagnosed with a gastric cancer in September 2022 and a side effect has been an uncomfortable build-up of fluid in his stomach thatpushes on his lungs and needs regular draining.
The MAPU, which opened last September, has given Mr Clements more precious time with his wife Rachael, turning a three-day hospital stay every few weeks into a single day of treatment.
“My diagnosis has made me more appreciative of the small things in life,” said Mr Clements, who worked as a bricklayer for 37 years until his diagnosis.
“When you don’t have much time left, you realise that, in fact, time is the most important thing. The MAPU gets me in and out of hospital on the same day.”
Staff Specialist Dr Brent Simkus said most patients treated in the unit have chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
“The MAPU brings medical, nursing and allied health professionals together on a 23-bed ward so we can efficiently prioritise pathology and medical imaging with the aim of restoring patients’ health and returning them home as soon as possible,” he said.
“It’s about delivering the right care for the right person at the right time.”
Mr Clements said the treatment plan for his cancer was initially overwhelming.
“I am so grateful for Brent and the team here at the MAPU for helping me understand my condition by using language I can understand,” Mr Clements said.
“They don’t treat me like a cancer patient, but a real person.”
Dr Simkus said patients treated in the MAPU were less likely to have unplanned readmissions to hospital as well.
“It’s been a game changer for these patients,” Dr Simkus said.