Julie Adams, a bohemian free spirit who likes to challenge the status quo in healthcare, and Lorna Cook, a dynamic powerhouse of networking and marketing energy, founded chemo@home in 2013.
Julie realised the potential and need for home-based chemotherapy back in 1994 when her Dad died. He had emphysema, caused by smoking, which resulted in repeated chest infections during his last few years. There was no such thing as home antibiotic therapy back then, but Julie was lucky enough to work in a hospital as a Cancer Services Pharmacist with wonderful nursing staff who taught her to administer the antibiotics, so her Dad could go home for Christmas. Over the next 6 years Julie researched ways to treat cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy at home, and in 2000 established and went on to manage for 12 years, a home chemotherapy service in the public sector.
Lorna, a Registered Nurse whose mum died from brain cancer, had experience from establishing the first pre-admission surgical clinic in WA and then went on to develop an understanding of oncology by working in the pharmaceutical sector for over a decade.
Raising three children each as single parents, and with many common interests, Julie and Lorna became friends. They are the perfect YIn and Yang; each complementing the others personality traits and talents.
Having gained experience in this highly specialised area, Julie started wondering why more patients couldn’t be treated at home. This led her to leave the public hospital sector and with Lorna who was ready for a change after working in the WA Health Department for 2 years, they both remortgaged their homes and chemo@home became a reality.
As a start-up company, Julie and Lorna felt fortunate that Zelda Haskins and Stacy McGreal, two amazing nurses, chose to leave the security of their previous roles to join chemo@home. It is incredibly humbling that Zelda and Stacy had the confidence and belief in the business potential.
As a result of the deep understanding of the requirements and also potential roadblocks, Julie and Lorna were able to work with and within the complexities of legislation and regulations, accreditation, Medicare, private health insurance, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and activity-based funding to successfully negotiate for remuneration of the health service.
Since 2013, the company has gone from strength to strength. Patient referrals in metropolitan Western Australia have continued to increase every year, expansion into metro South Australia has occurred and continued growth into other Australian states and territories as well as rural and regional areas is well underway.
The amazing achievements of chemo@home have been widely recognised, with the company winning nine business awards, including Julie being named the 2016 Telstra WA Business Women’s of the Year. An incredible accomplishment for any business.
Julie and Lorna are very passionate about the future of chemo@home. With a strong desire to grow the company across Australia and beyond, their aim of providing true patient centred care to cancer and chronic disease patients and their families will be achieved.