Westmead's past, present and future greets guests
Hundreds of visitors to Westmead Hospital’s 40th birthday celebrations on Saturday were equally eager to see future developments as they were to honour the past four decades.
Almost 300 guests, residents and staff took time out from official functions and festivities to ask questions at the Westmead Redevelopment information hub and view the new hospital building through 3D virtual reality glasses.
Construction timelines, traffic, hospital capacity and Parramatta Light Rail were among the many discussion points.
The new Central Acute Services Building – to be occupied by Westmead Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and The University of Sydney – features an expanded emergency department, more operating theatres, and extra inpatient beds.
Westmead Redevelopment project director Tim Mason said the large number of visitors from across Sydney underlined the interest in the precinct’s changing landscape.
“Westmead Redevelopment is now setting the scene over the next 40 years,” he said.
“The construction focus is moving from concreting to internal fit-outs as we plan for completion and commissioning in 2020.”
Westmead Hospital birthday festivities fittingly included the first baby ever born in the facility, Bianca English.
Bianca joined staff and community members in celebrating how the hospital had changed health care in western Sydney and its future commitment to patient care.
She also joined NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and new-born baby Callum Falconer at the official “prints in plaster” ceremony to provide a lasting tribute to the milestone occasion.
Health information stalls, tai chi demonstrations and a sausage sizzle kept the steady flow of visitors busy during the celebrations.
Westmead Hospital’s clinical immunology director and a Westmead ‘original’ Professor Graeme Stewart said the vibe at Westmead in the early days was extraordinary.
“We believed clinical care is best delivered with teaching, training and research,” Professor Stewart said.
“That was the mantra of our founding professors of medicine and surgery, the late Professor Peter Castaldi AO and Professor Miles Little.”
Seven Hills MP Mark Taylor and Parramatta MP Dr Geoff Lee were among the other political dignitaries to join the event.
To coincide with 40th birthday celebrations, the redevelopment team also re-opened the prototype rooms.
The rooms – housed in a purpose-built shed permanently located at the precinct - allow staff to get a feel for how their new work environments will operate when the new hospital building opens.