WORK has started on the long-awaited $30 million South West Cancer Centre in Warrnambool — one of the region’s biggest construction projects in years.
Fencing was erected yesterday around the Ryot Street site opposite Warrnambool Base Hospital and this morning workers’ huts will be lifted into position.
At the peak of construction about 120 workers are expected to be involved in the project.
First patients are likely to be going through the front doors by mid-next year.
The three-level building will have two radiotherapy bunkers, one with a radiation treatment machine, a planning CT scanner and support services.
It will be operated by Epworth Radiation Oncology as a public service with no costs to patients.
The facility will also incorporate Warrnambool Base Hospital’s chemotherapy unit, providing 11 chemotherapy chairs.
Epworth was selected to build and operate the centre, which is expected to serve patients from across south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia.
Project manager with Epworth, Paul Fenton, said tenders for sub-contractors were still being processed but he predicted there would be a strong percentage of local operators.
Principal project contractor is Construction Engineering, which also handled the first stage of the base hospital redevelopment.
“We’ve had quite a lot of engagement with local tradespeople and there are still a lot of contracts to go out,” Mr Fenton said.
“Construction is expected to be completed by June next year. We’ve been quite fortunate to get approvals for a multi-deck car park for completion in early 2016.”
The centre is the realisation of the dying wishes of Peter Jellie, who succumbed to cancer more than six years ago after numerous trips to Melbourne and Geelong for treatment.
His widow, Vicki, spearheaded a community campaign to achieve the goal and pressured the former state government to commit $15m and the federal government $10m, which was bolstered by $5m in local fund-raising.
A section of the new facility with therapy suites will be called the Peter’s Project Community Support Centre.
An ongoing Peter’s Project foundation will continue to raise money for support services.