A SPRING start is on the cards for the Albury-Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre.
With planning for the $75 million project on track, a sod-turning ceremony for the three-storey main building in Borella Road is tipped for October.
While the facility is due to be completed in its entirety in mid-2015, two key components of a combined public/private cancer care service will open within months.
Builders are already preparing the ground for a $5.5 million PET/CT scan facility at the rear of the hospital building and it should be operating two days a week by year’s end.
This will reduce the numbers of patients needing to go to Melbourne for specialist treatment.
Secondly, two paediatric chairs for children with cancer who require maintenance therapy will be installed in the main hospital by July.
Project director Greg Pearl said last night the hospital already treated three or four children a month for this service but the new chairs would be in larger rooms and would allow more patients to be treated.
Mr Pearl was speaking at an Albury Wodonga Health forum at Albury hospital last night which was attended by about 60 people involved in cancer care services.
Billard Leece Partnership Pty Ltd has designed a three-level centre that will include 30 in-patient beds and 32 day chemotherapy chairs — all with northerly views towards the airport or Black Range.
The federal government will provide $65 million for the centre, plus $5.5 million for the PET/CT centre, while the private sector will give $5 million in kind.
Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Stuart Spring said the centre would be the first combined public/private facility, all existing centres being either wholly private or wholly public.
Former Albury mayor Stuart Baker chairs a consortium representing the different players including Ramsay Health, Border Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology Victoria.
Murray Valley Private Hospital chief executive Doug McRae confirmed the oncology services in Wodonga would transfer to the new centre in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Hilltop carers accommodation project in Keene Street, next to the hospital, should start receiving guests next month.