Werribee Mercy Hospital will be one of the tallest buildings in Wyndham after its mammoth $85 million expansion.

Werribee MP Tim Pallas and state health minister Jill Hennessy turned the first sod on the project last Friday, marking the biggest investment in the hospital since it first opened in 1994.

The state government has pledged $85 million towards the upgrade, which will include eight critical care beds, 56 inpatient beds and six operating theatres over four storeys at the northern end of the hospital, above the Catherine McAuley Centre.

The hospital will stand six storeys high once works are complete by mid-2018.

Mr Pallas said the extra capacity at Werribee Mercy would improve people’s access to the safest, best quality critical care services and elective surgeries in an area where the population is booming, taking pressure off other hospitals across the west.

“I’m thrilled … we’re one more step towards the realisation of what will be the dream of an integrated health care facility,” he said.

Mr Pallas also announced a further $19 million over five years to expand and better co-ordinate mental health services in the west.

The week before the ministers’ visit, Mercy Health Foundation created an appeals committee to raise $2 million over the next 18 months to fit-out the new critical care unit.

Chairman Peter Mayall said $600,000 has already been raised through fundraisers including Wyndham Business and Tourism Association and the Wyndham Rotary fun run.

Via its partnership with Mercy Health, Star Weekly will provide regular appeal updates.

Details: aevans@mercy.com.au