THE CONSTRUCTION OF the New Children’s Hospital is now 92% complete according to the development board, with the first patients expected to be admitted by at least summer 2025.
The Journal had a tour of the new facility – which it has been claimed will be the world’s most expensive children’s hospital – with some of those managing the project on Monday.
The hospital will provide, once opened, 380 inpatient rooms including 20 that will be part of a new CAMHS unit, 60 critical care beds, and 93 day beds.
A hospital school and a third level education centre will be a part of efforts to make life as normal as possible for children and families living there long term.
With some of the rooms nearing the stage where they will be handed over by the developers to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) for commissioning (which will involve the installation of equipment and other final touches), the media have were invited along to view the project’s progress.
BAM Contractors Ltd, the Dutch-owned construction company that won the contract for the hospital, has been involved in a back and forth with the development board, CHI and the Government about delays in the project’s progress, which was hampered by Covid-19.
One of the inpatient rooms.
The escalating final cost of the project, now projected to eventually come in well over the €2 billion mark.
The final price point is still in the process of being hashed out in the Commercial Court as the State has pushed back on various price revisions.
BAM has say costs have increased due to inflation and other factors.
Phelim Devine, the project director with the NPHDB, says the focus should be on the money the efficiencies of the hospital will save through more effective treatment, rather than the overall price tag on the project, as it is a “50 to 100 year investment in the future of children’s healthcare in Ireland”.
The critical care, inpatient, and emergency department units are the closest to completion, with some rooms appearing close to finished bar final touches. The main concourse, however, still largely looks like a building site, and it is evident where the remaining work will need be done.
Parents will be able to sleep in the rooms, in their own bed in the inpatient unit, and those with children in critical care will be able to stay in a family accommodation area that is “dressing gown wearing distance” away from their kids’ rooms, according to Tracey Wall, the Clinical Transformation Lead Children’s Health Ireland with Children’s Health Ireland (CHI).
The gardens on top of the roof of the hospital, which surround its elevated helipad for emergency helicopter landings – the first of its kind in the Irish health system – have views of the Dublin city.
The main concourse.
A playground that has been designed with all children in mind, from those undergoing chemotherapy to wheelchair users – and with a coffee pod to boot, it is easy to imagine the difference they will make to families living between home and hospital long-term.
There are other features in the design that will doubtlessly improve life for patients and their families too. The grid on the windows means natural air will be ventilating the rooms.
On the critical care unit, where the constant demand for the services of nurses and specialist staff means that they often have to eat their lunch on the ward in case they are called on urgently, there is a balcony that staff can step out on to to get some fresh air.
The reception desks are wheelchair accessible, so staff can engage with all parents and patients as normal across the desk, without any barriers in the way.
The inpatient rooms all have natural light, ensuites with accessible showers, and plenty of plugs for phone chargers, which the CHI youth advisory council told designers was an absolute must – alongside good wifi access.
A play area pod on an inpatient ward.
For parents – who can already stay in some rooms at the existing Temple Street and Crumlin Hospitals – new services like a laundrette, a gym, and a kitchen will surely make a huge difference.
Wall from CHI says that while the overall number of rooms in the new hospital will be roughly equivalent to what is currently provided between the three existing sites, the models of care being provided will be very different, with a focus on daybeds and getting children who are ready to go home in a position to do so.
There will also be a greater provision of intensive care beds available (60 compared to the 32 in Temple Street and Crumlin combined).
However, Wall said that it is “highly unlikely” that all 60 beds will be in use when the hospital first opens its doors.
“We will start with a smaller number and then scale up from there, as more staff are available,” she explained.
Tracey Wall CHI and Phelim Devine from the development board on top of the helipad where CHI expect around 4 helicopters landings a week once the hospital is open.
Wall adds that the introduction of the electronic patient record, combined with the majority of children’s health staff being on one site, will greatly improve how treatment is provided.
“With this digital record, there will be one source of the truth for a child’s medical history, and anyone treating them in any part of the hospital will be able to access it,” she explained.
The New Children’s Hospital’s electronic patient record will also feature the introduction of an online ‘patient portal’, where service users will be able to access their charts, upcoming appointments, and information about their care team.
The New Children’s Hospital will enable a new focus on neonatal intensive care. While infants requiring this care are currently admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Units, they will now be in a specific 18 bed unit. Another key difference will be each infant in intensive care having an individual room, which is not currently the case.
The progress on the Children’s Hospital means that walking through it, it is now easier to visualise what it will be like once it is complete.
Today, construction staff were busy at work across the building, specifically in the concourse where there is still a lot of work to be done.
BAM site manager John Clancy who accompanied NPHDB officials on the tour, said that the last 5% of work on a site prior to completion can be very labour intensive.
He also said that the media reportage on the negotiations have at times impacted on staff morale at the site.
“It does of course, because you are going home and people are asking you, ‘So when will the Children’s Hospital be done?’ As if you are building it by yourself. I know our engineers would get that a lot. We don’t get out message out there a lot, but the fact is everyone is doing what they can physically here, and it is hard work,” Clancy said.News Related