Princess Margaret Hospital shuts doors as sick kids move to Perth Children's Hospital

Almost 109 years to the day since it opened, Perth's Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (PMH) has closed its doors.

The hospital's last 91 young patients have been transferred to the new Perth Children's Hospital (PCH) in a marathon logistical effort which began early on Sunday morning.

The move — involving 15 ambulances, hundreds of staff and police traffic control assistance — was weeks in the planning, timed to coincide with PCH opening its emergency department.

Premier Mark McGowan, who joined Health Minister Roger Cook at PCH to welcome some of the incoming patients, said the transfer was an enormous exercise.

"[This is] the most important day for West Australian kids in over 100 years," he said

"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."

Ambulances make 3.3km trip five minutes apart

The first ambulance left PMH just after 7:00am on Sunday morning, carrying 12-year-old Cloverdale boy Darius Eldouma.

That 3.3 kilometre journey was repeated every five minutes, aided through traffic by "green corridors" controlled by Main Roads along Roberts Road and Thomas Street.

The last patient transfer took place around 1:00pm.

Mr Cook said the decision to move all 91 patients in one day was taken following advice from experts, as well as being informed by experiences in other states and the opening of Fiona Stanley Hospital in 2014.

The Health Department's executive director of nursing services Katie McKenzie, the forward site controller for the move, said individual patient circumstances made tackling the transfer a unique challenge.

"[It] is a few more than what we thought yesterday, a few less than what we thought earlier in the week," Ms McKenzie said.

Ms McKenzie said medical staff had to monitor each transfer closely to ensure any complications were quickly dealt with.

"The children's condition changes very quickly. Our ability to schedule has had to be responsive to those changes," she said.

"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."

Future of PMH Subiaco site remains unclear

The patient transfer officially ends the tenure of PMH — which first opened on June 30, 1909 — as WA's premier adolescent health campus.

Responsibility for its Subiaco site will be transferred from the Child and Adolescent Health Service to the Department of Health.

Mr Cook said it would then be remediated and mothballed before it again changes hands to the Department of Lands, although he could not say what the future held for the site.

"We farewell the grand old lady of our healthcare system today," he said.

"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.

"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."

PCH leaves delays behind

The $1.2 billion PCH finally opened last month after three years of delays, lead and asbestos contamination and two legionella disease scares.

The hospital was originally expected to open in August 2015.

The PCH emergency department is almost double the size of PMH's with 298 beds, while the hospital also has twice as many theatres with 12.

Patients from the Bentley Adolescent Unit will be the last to arrive when they are transferred next week.

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This article was published and provided by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

#hospitals #perthhealth #WA #ambulance


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