The first sod has been turned for Whangarei's new $5 million cancer treatment unit with the wife of the man the centre will be named after helping dig the first hole.
Project Promise - a fundraiser by the Northland Community Foundation - raised $3.67 million to build a new oncology unit at Whangarei Hospital.
The facility will be named The Jim Carney Cancer Treatment Centre in memory of prominent Whangarei businessman and philanthropist Jim Carney who died in 2000.
The Carney Family Trust has contributed heavily to Project Promise and yesterday Jim's widow Mary Carney was on hand to turn the first sod with Northland District Health Board CEO Nick Chamberlain.
The final cost of the centre is expected to be about $5 million but Northland District Health Board has agreed to contribute the balance.
The centre will provide day-stay treatment for cancer patients, including initial consultations, chemotherapy treatments and follow-up from medical experts, including related nursing and support services. Some people who need radiation treatment or have complex cases requiring specialist care will still need to travel to Auckland.
Dr Chamberlain said the centre will provide a spacious alternative for Northlanders receiving day treatment for cancer, compared to the cramped conditions which currently exist at the hospital.
Northland Community Foundation chairman Richard Ayton said it is very satisfying after all the work and effort of fundraising to see the Jim Carney Cancer Centre is about to be built.
"I know just how much has been asked of people to support Project Promise, but now that effort has paid off and to see the start of the building programme is something very special.
"We are especially pleased that a Northland firm, A-Line Design and Build has been awarded the building contract."
Whangarei company A-line Design and Build, with local sub-contractors, has won the contract to build the centre.