Sep 2018

Perth Children’s Hospital Welcomes Child Patients from Princess Margaret in One of the Most Impressive Patient Transfers in History

Published in General on September 19, 2018

Princess Margaret Hospital for Children closed for business earlier this summer, ending more than a century of service to the families of Perth and the surrounding area.

The final patients, almost 100 in number, were transferred to Perth’s Children’s Hospital in an incredible undertaking that required weeks to plan. Some fifteen ambulances, supported by a host of police escorts and hospital staff, saw the patients safely to their new location.

Premier Mark McGowan commented on how complex the move was, noting that "A computer program had to be invented to ensure we monitored the children as they were being moved. Making sure it was all tracked, the children were looked after, all properly cared for, and there were no issues on the way."

The trip was just over three kilometers, and convoys departed five minutes from one another to ensure a smooth transfer. The initial ambulance departed at 7:00 AM on the day of the relocation, and the entire operation ended by 1:00 as the last patient was transferred to PCH.

The entire operation was made easier by “green corridors” of traffic from Robert Roads to Thomas Street. Katie McKenzie, controller of the operation noted how the process was made more difficult because every patient required unique attention: "The children's condition changes very quickly. Our ability to schedule has had to be responsive to those changes.”

The exact number of patients being transferred was also constantly in flux during the planning stages, as McKenzie mentions: "[It] is a few more than what we thought yesterday, a few less than what we thought earlier in the week,"

McKenzie further noted that “the scheduling and reviewing of children was happening right up until about 15 minutes before we started.”

“So it is absolutely well informed and responsive to what's happening in the hospital."

While Princess Margaret Hospital has been closed for good, the fate of Subiaco location remains unclear, though it is slated to be passed on to the Department of Health for revitalization and then to the Department of Lands, according to Health Minister Roger Cook, who noted "I don't have details on what will be the eventual outcome of that site. It's 35,000 square metres in an inner city block, so obviously it's very valuable land.”

Cook also commented on the historical value of the site: "We also have heritage issues associated with that. It was part of the original hospital site so obviously we want to preserve those values as well."

The Health Minister had fond words to bid a final goodbye to PMH: "We farewell the grand old lady of our healthcare system today,"

Of the transfer, Premier Mark McGowan, said it was "the most important day for West Australian kids in over 100 years".

The new PCH is nearly twice the size of the old hospital. That includes both the emergency room (which boasts almost 300 units) and the inpatient facilities, which has a dozen theatres. Originally slated to open in 2015, the hospital was held back for three years due to lead, asbestos, and legionella.