Hospital criticised over wig ordeal

Patient claims lack of support at Joondalup Health Campus.
Patient claims lack of support at Joondalup Health Campus.

JHC has since addressed the issue, but the Wanneroo woman, who wished to go unnamed, claimed she was initially left in the dark with what her options were.

The woman was not aware of any wig services until an attendant at a Morley hair supplies business informed her of wig vouchers offered by public hospitals.

It has been common practice at Fremantle, Sir Charles Gairdner and Royal Perth hospitals for cancer patients to receive vouchers, of varying amounts, to pay for a wig.

A JHC spokesman said the hospital did offer the vouchers, but would normally recommend the WA Cancer Council’s free wig service.

The woman was only informed of this service after she rang to inquire about the vouchers.

In a letter to the hospital outlining her situation, the woman referred to the ‘terrifying thought’ of having to shave her head. JHC deputy chief executive Diane Jones wrote back to the woman, explaining the hospital’s stance.

‘Where patients prefer to purchase a wig we can provide financial assistance,’ she said.

‘Patients should contact our Social Work Department for information.

‘While our public chemo-therapy service is growing, we treat much smaller numbers of public patients than some of the other hospitals in Perth.

‘The size of our chemotherapy service means we are not able to offer such a comprehensive service.

‘Given hair loss is usually temporary, the Cancer Council’s wig service meets the needs of most.’

Ms Jones said many of JHC’s patients commenced treatment at another hospital and had already obtained a wig.

In this case, the patient had begun treatment at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, but had not needed wig assistance until she was referred to Joondalup.

She has since sought the services of WA Cancer Council’s wig library.

A WA Department of Health spokesman said patients with private health insurance should check if their policy covers wigs.

JHC WIG options for
chemotherapy patients
:
– Contact the hospital’s Social
Work Department for information
on financial assistance.
– Contact the WA Cancer Council
to access their free wig
library.
– Attend a free Look Good Feel
Better workshop ” lgfb.org.au.