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Community Spirit

The recently opened Jim Carney Cancer Treatment Centre at Whangarei Hospital is a result of true collaboration among clients, contractors, consultants and most importantly, community. RDT Pacific is proud to have helped bring this very special project to its fruition.

The Centre was a collaboration between Northland District Health Board (NDHB) and the community, led by The Northland Community Foundation (NCF). Based at Whangarei Hospital, the building is named after a local businessman and philanthropist whose widow donated generously towards the project. But equally, the Centre owes its existence to the tireless work of hundreds of Northlanders, who raised and donated more than $3million to make it happen. RDT Pacific Senior Project Manager Rebecca MacDonald and Director Simon Wilson worked hands-on throughout its construction.

The previous ‘cramped and inadequate’ oncology facilities were housed in the base of the main hospital building. Northland DHB chief executive Nick Chamberlain is sure the new Centre will make a very positive difference to the patient experience. “Although they [the patients] never complained they deserved so much better.” In contrast, the new elevated, standalone building is a breath of fresh air: offering more space, privacy and comfort to patients. It’s designed to feel non-clinical, with nine chemotherapy treatment chairs positioned by large windows overlooking green space.

The building also houses flexible meeting areas, consulting rooms, a procedure room, children’s spaces and the ability to grow in line with community needs. These facilities all mean fewer patients will have to travel to Auckland for treatment, therefore spending less time away from their families. Telehealth videoconferencing technology will enable consultation among both healthcare providers and patients. Having more pleasant facilities will also encourage staff to work at the unit.

Trustee of The Northland Community Foundation, Gavin Buckingham, is pleased to see the culmination of so much effort finally becoming a reality. “The building looks great and is such an improvement on what we have at the moment. This is something that all those who contributed should feel really proud of.” These included community groups, service clubs, businesses and individuals. “It’s amazing speaking to locals and getting a sense of how excited and involved they feel about the project,” said Rebecca.

The building represents excellent value for money, thanks to those who donated time or otherwise supported the venture in consideration of its charitable nature. Initial design concepts by consultants, and the services concept by local subcontractors, were developed free of charge. RDT Pacific also donated time and invaluable expertise at this stage. During construction, subcontractors provided materials at cost, forgoing their margin. Duncan Broome –foreman for main contractor Aline Design and Build – personally gave 40 hours of his own time, including a weekend spent fixing name plaques to the donors’ wall.

With Rebecca involved from the outset, she spent a large amount of time onsite to ensure the project ran extremely smoothly. With numerous stakeholders having both a financial and personal investment, the challenge lay in keeping them informed and satisfied throughout the process. NDHB Director of Strategic Projects during the project, Brett Halvorson, was impressed with the outcome. “Working closely with RDT Pacific gave me peace of mind that the project would run smoothly, challenges would be anticipated and solutions found. The result is a real asset for the community that we can be very proud of.”

The project was completed on time, well within budget. And most importantly, with the opening of the Centre to patients from November 17, 2014, Northland residents living with cancer can now access the care and facilities they deserve.