BASS Coast Health will provide more cancer patients with treatment closer to home after signing a contract to build the $2.1 million Cancer Care Centre.

After a competitive tender process, it was announced today Wonthaggi firm TS Constructions will build the facility, with work to start on June 16 and due to be completed by February 2021, Bass Coast Health said.

An artist’s impression of the $2.1 million Cancer Care Centre to be built at the Wonthaggi Hospital.

“This news is huge in every way. It says that we are growing and it says the state and federal governments have faith in us as an organisation to be able to deliver,” said Bass Coast Health (BCH) board chair Don Paproth.

“This cancer centre will change people’s lives. Many patients will no longer have to travel to Melbourne for treatment when they are already feeling ill and enduring the financial pressures that cancer treatment presents.”

TS Constructions director Trevor Bowler said the peak of construction would see up to 60 tradespeople involved in the project, most of them local.

“We’re just very pleased to be part of a community project such as this,” he said.

The modern treatment centre will offer nine chairs and three consulting rooms at Wonthaggi Hospital and expand the newly developed cancer service that is already being delivered in collaboration with Alfred Health.

Bass Coast Shire has one of the highest incidences of cancer of any municipality in Victoria, particularly lung cancer.

With the region’s population ageing, the incidence of cancer is likely to continue to increase, prompting even greater demand for treatment locally.

BCH engaged specialist haematologists, Drs George Grigoriadis and Abbey Wilcox, some 18 months ago to help get the cancer service started.

Since then, BCH has developed a partnership with the oncology team from Alfred Health, who now travel to BCH to provide first-class care to cancer patients at Wonthaggi Hospital.

The Cancer Centre has been designed by staff and patients to give each patient views across bushland and towards the coast.

BCH CEO Jan Child said the centre would eventually deliver most cancer services locally.

“We will also aim to deliver a chemotherapy service at Phillip Island once the new community hospital is built,” Ms Child said.

“We are growing our staff skills with strong support from Alfred Health and are doing some final fundraising for equipment and a healing garden to ensure we can provide the best possible experience.”

Funding for the building was provided by the Commonwealth through Monash MP Russell Broadbent and a generous donation was also received from an anonymous local benefactor.

People interested in providing donations towards cancer equipment or the Healing Garden should contact Jackie Goodman on 5671 3459. For more information about cancer services, call operations manager Kirsten Weinzierl on 0436 642 975.