By CRAIG McTEAR
COFFS HARBOUR'S Patients and Carers Lodge will soon be a reality following a concerted community fundraising campaign.
The lodge ? which will have 10 units for radiotherapy patients and their carers and a further six for relatives of the seriously ill ? will be built at Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
Work will start by the end of next month on the facility at a cost of more than $1 million.
"We've now got enough money to build the lodge," Patients and Carers Lodge Inc. president Nev Hillenberg said.
The fundraising campaign has been a joint venture between Coffs Harbour Rotary and the Lions Club of Woolgoolga, with the NSW Cancer Council ($200,000) and the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Solutions ($250,000) major contributors.
The Coffs Harbour-based Bachrach Group of Companies, which owns Park Beach Plaza and Park Beach HomeBase, is also chipping in $50,000 over three years.
Contributions of $60,000 and $46,000 have also come in from two individual residents, while there have also been a host of fundraising activities throughout the region.
Construction of the radiotherapy unit at the health campus is scheduled to start late next year.
"Radiotherapy patients have to re- ceive treatment five-days-a-week for four to six weeks, so it is vital they have cheap accommodation close to the facility," Mr Hillenberg said.
"We're a totally non-profit organisation who want to make it as cheap as we can for the people who use it.
"While we were collecting, it was very apparent there are a lot of people out there who would use the facility.
"The Commonwealth Government identified the Mid North Coast as the most disadvantaged part of Australia in relation to people who needed radiotherapy and weren't getting it."
Mr Hillenberg said the lodge was first discussed four years ago and once it was confirmed Coffs Harbour was getting a radiotherapy unit, 'then we went hell for leather in fundraising'.