Lumina Welcomes Mater Pathology – New Access to Advanced Diagnostics and Collaborative Care

NEWS - 27 Jun 2024

6 minute read

Access to faster diagnosis and specialist diagnostics in health services on the Gold Coast takes an exciting step forward as Mater Pathology opens within the Proxima Building. Proxima, soon to be open, will be the first private development to open within the Queensland Government’s Lumina commercial cluster, inside the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct (GCHKP). 

Mater Pathology is well-known as a provider of high-quality pathology services from their laboratories in South East Queensland. Direct local collection and transport to the lab means a faster turnaround time that is helpful during what can be an anxious or stressful time waiting for results for patients, parents or professionals. For some patients though, this swift turnaround time can be critical in enabling treatment for life-threatening conditions. Mater Pathology within Lumina will focus in the areas of highly specialised genetic and metabolic chemistry diagnosis to address a gap in diagnostic capability. This significant advancement will support a range of specialised health services supporting access to healthcare for the Gold Coast community.

While Mater Pathology will be opening collection rooms within Proxima, the physical presence is only the tip of the iceberg in the extension of specialised services that they will be bringing to the GCHKP, powered by their major laboratories within South East Queensland.

Access to Advanced Genetic Testing: Unveiling Potential Health Risks

Genetic testing can be a critical diagnostic process in some conditions, and in others it can help provide important information on the potential hereditary risk, based on the presence of specific genes. Dr James Harraway, Genetic Pathologist explained,

“There is a lot of diagnostic testing for endocrine-related causes of developmental issues in babies and young children through both our cytogenetics and molecular genetics laboratories. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) is one of these conditions and we are one of Australia’s reference laboratories for this condition. Mature-Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY) is another common condition that we help diagnose. Genetic testing associated with developmental delays in children is one of the main areas of our work now.”

Mater Pathology also offers genetic testing to understand the risk of developing hereditary cancers, some of the most common being breast, ovarian and colon/colorectal cancers. This can be important in helping people make decisions about preventative treatments, in following up more frequently in screening programs, and may extend into testing and genetic counselling for multiple members of a family.

Genetic testing is also important in family planning, either before pregnancy, or following an increased risk identified in pregnancy screening tests.

Specialised Chemistry Diagnosis and Management for Metabolic Conditions and Rare Diseases

Approximately 1 in 500 newborns are affected by conditions associated with problems in metabolism. Most of these fit into a category of ‘rare diseases’. About 30% of these present at newborn stage, including some in an acute life-threatening crisis that requires immediate diagnosis and intervention. “With Phenylketonuria (PKU), if it is left untreated, it can result in severe brain damage with intellectual disability, seizures, spasticity and movement disorders. But with early diagnosis and treatment, the outcome can be normal development,” said Avis McWhinney, Supervising Clinical Scientist. Other metabolic conditions can present later in childhood (around 60%) with a small number in adults (10%).

With the new services opening at the Gold Coast, results for key metabolic diagnostic tests will be available much more swiftly to help with rapid diagnosis, commencement of treatment, and hopefully help provide some relief in an anxious time.

Metabolic conditions are generally life-long – some requiring very close ongoing monitoring, for example, weekly blood tests. For Gold Coast patients, Mater Pathology within Lumina is not only close to home to reduce inconvenience, it also ensures the most direct route to testing – as Mater is one of only two labs in Queensland with this capability (the other is Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital) – it ensures time isn’t wasted while samples are re-routed by other companies or sent interstate.

A Mother’s Hope Realised

After newborn screening, Cindy was diagnosed with phenylketonuria (PKU), an inherited condition in which the body cannot break down the amino acid, phenylalanine. High levels of phenylalanine are toxic to the brain and so Cindy required a very restricted low protein diet all her life, but this was critical during her two pregnancies. Without extremely strict dietary control during pregnancy in a mother with PKU, the baby’s brain can be permanently damaged.

During pregnancy, Cindy sent in a weekly dried blood spot card to Mater Pathology. With access to swift test results, she was able to work with her medical, dietetic and nursing teams to ensure her phenylalanine levels remained within the safe range – and she now has delivered two healthy babies.

A Spirit of Collaboration: Building a Stronger Healthcare Ecosystem

Mater Pathology’s collaborative approach is a great fit for the community at Lumina. Dr Admire Matsika, Clinical Director of Anatomical Pathology is looking forward to the opportunity to partner with the Gold Coast University Hospital in supporting extended diagnostic services for cancer, as well as potential for support to outpatient collections.

There will also be great opportunities to support and work with medical specialists and groups within the Proxima building who have complex diagnostic and pathology needs, including cancer specialists and interventional radiologists.

These types of collaborations will benefit the Lumina community with a focus on local presence for more convenience, faster turnaround of results, and the ability for health professionals to easily contact pathology specialists for support.

A Haven for Children’s Healthcare

Opening within Proxima, Mater Pathology understands the unique needs of children and their families in this paediatric-focussed building. Their facility will offer a family-friendly environment with several features designed to ease the stress of medical procedures:

  • Convenient booking system: Catering to parents’ needs, the system allows appointments for both parents or multiple family members, minimising disruptions.
  • Experienced phlebotomists: Highly skilled in working with children, Mater’s phlebotomists create a stress-free environment for blood draws.
  • Centralised convenience: Located within the Proxima Building, Mater Pathology offers families the ease of accessing diagnostics alongside their medical services and childcare facilities, eliminating the need to travel between appointments.
  • No handling fees: Using their own collection centres, there are no added handling fees on top their services.

Join the Lumina Community: Advancing Healthcare Together

The arrival of Mater Pathology is yet another example of the community of advanced health and medical services that is growing within Lumina. The Proxima building, focussed on collaborative and integrating health services for children is open to enquiries from organisations who are similarly minded in their commitment to serving the Gold Coast community. And with RDX Lumina development led by developer Northwest Healthcare Properties already under construction, and two further developments expected to commence soon, Lumina is becoming a thriving hub for healthcare innovation and collaboration.

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