A new centre for cancer patients officially opened today at Hamilton's Juravinski Hospital, allowing them to treat about 1,000 more patients every year.

The 450,000-square-foot centre, part of a redevelopment project that began in February of 2008, includes 104 patient beds, new surgical suites and an emergency care department for cancer patients.  

"We now have a better opportunity to do more urgent care," said Leslie Gauthier, site administrator for the new cancer centre.

A key addition to the cancer centre is an operating room, the ninth in the hospital as a whole. Gauthier said that one operating room will allow the centre to perform extra cancer-related surgeries and treat another 1,000 cases a year.

The Hamilton Health Sciences network, including the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre and two other hospitals, treat between 22,000 and 24,000 cancer patients a year.

Hospital president Dr. Bill Evans said the community played a key role in keeping the project on time and on budget.

"Some doubted that there would be a hospital even when we dug a hole," said Evans. "But the community has been amazingly supportive."

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, who was in Hamilton today for grand opening of the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, praised the new facility for its innovative approach to local health care.

"Hamilton Health Sciences is always moving forward, always looking to see patients better," said Matthews. "We're showing the rest of Canada how to do it right."