Westmead Hospital has elevated its elite trauma service with a dedicated ward to care for patients with multiple life-threatening injuries.
Patients and staff moved to Level 8b of the new 14-storey Central Acute Services Building on Wednesday, March 3. Among them was Julia, flown to Westmead Hospital in February following a motorcycle crash that left her with multiple broken bones and internal injuries.
“The care has been fantastic here. It’s been priceless, it’s just been phenomenal. They’ve been here all the time for me,” Julia said.
“I’ve had teams and teams of doctors making sure that all of my injuries, all of my problems have all been solved each time. I’ve just got to ring a buzzer – even at 2 o’clock in the morning – and the nurses are here to help me.
“I’ve been really lucky to be part of the first patients through the new trauma unit. It’s absolutely beautiful. The colours on the walls mean it’s quite calming, the room is big enough so everyone can get around it.
“All the facilities are here for the staff to be able to help me, and the experience has been beautiful. There’s a beautiful view. It just makes me feel like I’m going to get better now.”
Westmead Trauma Service cares for an average of 2,900 patients each year, including more than 500 with severe injuries. The leading causes of admission are falls (46%), road incidents (22%) and assaults (8.5%).
Westmead Hospital head of trauma, Associate Professor Jeremy Hsu said the new ward would provide some of the most comprehensive trauma care in Australia.
“We have a whole team of dedicated staff with specialised skills for people with multiple injuries. This team of medical, nursing and allied health staff has to be across it all, from organ damage to muscular-skeletal injuries and neurological trauma,” Associate Professor Hsu said.
“I remember first working on the plans for this unit in 2014, so it is very exciting to see it realised now in the best environment we could ask for.”
Among the guests present for the first day of operation were retired Westmead trauma nurses Christine Read-Allsopp and Trish McDougall OAM.
Christine was the first trauma nurse in Australasia and started the data collection at Westmead Hospital with a notebook and pencil. She was the first and only nurse to receive the Gordon Trinca Medal from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
Her research showed that only 30 per cent of Westmead’s trauma patients were coming in during business hours, which proved the catalyst for the first dedicated after-hours trauma service.
“I’m very proud and privileged to have worked in trauma for 36 years and witnessed immense changes in that time. It’s been an amazing journey and wonderful to see the advancements in care,” Christine said.
Trish was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her contributions to trauma. These included establishing a lifesaving new protocol for patients with serious bleeding, and including families and carers in the nurse rounds – an innovation later adopted by major US hospitals.
“Working in trauma requires ongoing education for the rest of your life. The situation can change in minutes. This new ward is real progress in recognising trauma is its own disease. This is a magnificent building and the staff know what they’re doing; they’re leading the way,” Trish said.
“One thing you must never forget is that you are not just saving patients’ lives, you are giving them a life.”
The trauma ward is the first inpatient unit to move into the new Central Acute Services Building (CASB), also known as K Block. Other successful moves so far include the emergency department, transit lounge, central sterilising services department, perioperative care, operating suites, and satellite services of medical imaging and pharmacy.
The centrepiece of the $1 billion-plus Westmead Redevelopment, the CASB will provide western Sydney with high-quality healthcare, research and educational facilities for decades to come.
The Westmead Health Precinct is one of the largest health, education, research, innovation and training precincts in Australia, featuring four major hospitals, four world-leading medical research institutes, two university campuses and the largest research intensive pathology service in NSW.