The Western Trust has thrown open the doors on its new £33m south wing at Altnagelvin, which has been hailed as a template for hospitals of the future.
The first wave of patients, including new mothers and those receiving treatment for cancer, said there was no comparison between the past resources offered to local patients and the new state-of-the-art building and facilities.
The 12,116 sq metre glass-fronted building will now house a number of departments formerly located inside the main Tower Block at Altnagelvin, which is also earmarked for a major refurbishment programme within the next decade.
Haemotology and oncology cancer treatment wards have been moved into the new building, which has 14 single en suite treatment rooms and a further 15 person capacity chemotherapy unit, with single treatment rooms and eight consulting examination rooms for outpatients.
Martin O’Doherty from Ballyarnett village is one of the first patients to have been transferred to the new South Wing.
Mr O’Doherty, who is receiving chemotherapy after having surgery to remove cancer from his bowel, praised the new building.
He said: “It is much better. It is beautifully laid out. In the old unit it was very cramped and you were sitting nearly on top of one another, in here you have loads of space.
“Here is a big difference, it has an open feeling, a friendly atmosphere.”
He added: “I can’t praise the staff enough for their attitude and approach to the care of patients, I can’t fault them.”
Una Cardin, unit manager, added: “Instead of patients going to two or three different departments even before they receive treatment, we now have the one cancer unit.
“People will also see the same nurses, the same physiotherpaists, dieticians, which is extremely important for the patient pathway.”
The new building will be officially opened by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey next month.