The Mercy Hospital Foundation has lodged a planning application to construct the two-to-three-storey centre, on a 0.02-hectare site at Wood’s St, Cork City.
Micheál Sheridan, foundation CEO, said the estimated capital cost is up to €2m, with a hoped-for completion date of the end of 2018: “We were looking for a site for three or four years. Location was the key — it was crucial that we could offer patients and their families support in the immediate aftermath of a diagnosis.”
Patients and families will be able to access counselling, and the foundation is also planning to trial a psycho-oncology service.
Dr Helen Richards, clinical psychologist at the hospital, said there is a wealth of evidence indicating the positive health benefits of clinical psychological input on cancer patients and their families, including improved quality of life and immune status: “Numerous studies have documented the occurrence of clinical anxiety, depression, severe emotional distress, low self-esteem, and diminished body image, feelings of helplessness, as well as impaired social relationships, sexual functioning and diminution in work capacity among patients with various cancers.”
Moreover, depressed patients remain in hospital for approximately 40% longer than non-depressed patients, and have 35% greater hospital costs.
The psycho-oncology programme will be piloted on a sessional basis for two years with a view to providing a full-time service, said Mr Sheridan.
National Cancer Registry figures show around 9,000 cancer care episodes at the hospital in 2015. Almost 700 men were diagnosed, including 222 cases of prostate cancer; and 250 women.
Derek Power, consultant medical oncologist at MUH said the new centre will provide patients and families with “a place that they can go in a non-clinical setting to receive support and advice before, during and after their treatment”.
Wood’s St is also the site for one of the city council’s social housing developments. If both projects go ahead, it will result in significant rejuvenation in the area.