With a strategic blow from a sledgehammer, Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin symbolically started demolition of Lismore Base Hospital’s former mental health building to mark the start of construction of the $27 million Integrated Cancer Centre (ICC).

Following the recent relocation of patients and staff from Richmond Clinic to the new Mental Health facility, the building will be demolished as part of the site clearance for the new ICC, Stage 2 of the LBH redevelopment.

The demolition will be handled by Lismore contractor, Farpoint Demolitions.

The ICC, which includes Radiation Oncology (Radiotherapy), is the third such facility for the North Coast Cancer Institute.

Similar services now operate in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

The project is being fast-tracked as a result of a $15 million Commonwealth contribution facilitated by Ms Saffin.

Ms Saffin said: “Along with celebrating the start of an exciting new project, there is a touch of sadness in farewelling the old Richmond Clinic.

“In its lifetime it has been a maternity ward, a renal service and a mental health inpatient unit.

“Over the years a large number of patients have received excellent care from the many wonderful staff, and this is worth remembering.”

The site clearance will be completed by November to allow the main construction contractor (yet to be appointed) a clear and unencumbered site.

The Detailed Design and Documentation for the new ICC has been completed and selected tenders will be called shortly, with the main construction contract due to be let in October 2008, and construction work due to start in December.