The $55 million Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre will open behind schedule with existing staff delivering existing services.
But the facility will grow with demand, providing improved access to cancer treatment closer to home for the Ballarat patients who need it, according to Ballarat Health Services (BHS) spokesperson Geoff Millar.
Mr Millar confirmed that construction on the centre, scheduled to open last month, had been delayed by 80 days due to rain and bad weather.
He said radiation therapy would now commence at the centre on April 4.
The remaining services, including an expanded day oncology facility and new wellness centre, will progressively move into the building throughout the year.
Mr Millar said BRICC would open, as a starting point, with existing staff performing their current roles.
But more health professionals would be employed as demand increased, he said.
“The capacity will be there to treat more patients from day one,” he said.
“We will have a cancer centre for the people of Ballarat. The whole building has been designed with the patient in mind.
“Accessibility and comfort and access to better treatment has been provided in this centre.”
The opening of BRICC comes as health services around the state continue to struggle with cuts to public hospital funding.
Mr Millar said the positions of director and nurse unit manager of BRICC had been put on hold as a consequence of the $2.8 million that was ripped from the Ballarat Health Services budget.
But he said there would be no impact to patient services.
“At the moment the centre can open without those positions,” he said.
“The existing structure of BHS will manage the centre.”
Mr Millar said fitting out currently was occurring within the building, with a priority placed on the completion of the bottom three floors – those dedicated to patient services.
The top two floors will be used to accommodate administration staff.
Currently Ballarat has just one radiotherapy bunker, operated by BAROC (Ballarat Austin Radiation Oncology Centre).
BRICC will have two bunkers operational from its opening date in April.
Mr Millar said it meant the capacity to treat new patients was immediate.
“You’ll expect in 12 months time the number of patients receiving treatment will be significantly increased,” he said.
Mr Millar said the first of BRICC’s two linear accelerators had now been commissioned and the second was on schedule.