New paediatric unit at Joondalup Health Campus opens


Jo Harrington with daughter Lux, who will be among the children treated in the new children’s ward. Picture: Martin Kennealey d455173
Jo Harrington with daughter Lux, who will be among the children treated in the new children’s ward. Picture: Martin Kennealey d455173

LET there be light for our children’s ward, came the plea from Joondalup Health Campus officials.

And from Tuesday their hope becomes a reality.

The cramped confine that was the former Joondalup Health Campus children’s ward is no more.

The hospital officially opened its $12.1 million paediatric unit today, adding 13 extra beds to make it a 37-bed operation.

Tuesday marks the first occasion doctors and nurses will be treating sick children in their new surrounds.

Twenty of the rooms are single bed abodes, whereas the previous quarters had just two such setups.

Paediatrics head of department Desiree Silva described the improvements as the “perfect combination” of medical functionality and architecture that does not make the ward feel like a hospital.

While the preceding ward had little natural light, the new setting focuses on a brighter design.

“It’s very funky, very nature friendly,” she said.

“It’s very airy… there’s lots of light coming through.

“The way we’ve always wanted it is to have it attractive for families.

“The majority of the rooms are single rooms, there’s a comfortable bed for parents to sleep in.”

While children will still have to travel to Princess Margaret Hospital or the new Perth Children’s Hospital for more complex problems, the upgrade to JHC is expected to reduce the number of them who need to do so.

Professor Silva said it gave staff the ability to provide “most of the care” in Joondalup with an increase in the number of sub specialists and “a lot more surgical procedures”.

Such services include a doctor for digestive and stomach problems to cover issues that would have previously required referral to the tertiary campus.

Prof Silva explained further advancements.

“We’ll be looking at doing sleep studies and even other illnesses we can certainly manage them up here extremely well,” she said.

Wary of the importance of distractions for children in the confronting hospital environment, she trumpeted the unit’s play area, which features an aquarium filled with more than 200 tropical fish.

Touch-sensitive play floors add to the experience, as well as an outdoor play area to be completed at a future date.

The ward also includes a 10-bed day procedure unit, which Health Minister John Day considered one of its most important features.

“Previously, children needing a day procedure such as allergy desensitisation, removal of adenoids, correcting squints and other general surgery would be cared for in an overnight bed,” he said.

“Having dedicated beds for day procedures means more overnight beds will be available for children needing longer-stay care, which will help reduce waiting lists.”

Hospital figures showed Joondalup Health Campus dealt with about 20 per cent of the total population of Perth children who presented to an emergency department (ED) last year.

More than 23,000 youngsters were treated in the ED in 2015 and more than 3000 were admitted to the paediatric ward.

Mr Day said the ward included a room for taking blood and performing other duties, keeping such procedures away from the patient’s bed, which is reserved as a “safe and pain-free space where they can feel relaxed”.

The improvements were funded by $6 million from Telethon, $3.1 million from the State Government and $3 million from Ramsay Health Care.

JHC paediatric unit features

– day beds in each room for parents with under-bed storage for personal items

– improved facilities for children with a physical disability, including an assisted bathroom enabling access to a full bath

– new 3D pain distracters that will be used when a child undergoes a potentially painful procedure