Five-month delay to opening of Sunshine Coast University Hospital

The opening of the new $2 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital being built at the Kawana Health Precinct will be delayed until April next year to ensure the commissioning problems experienced at other major hospitals such as Lady Cilento Children's and Fiona Stanley hospitals are not repeated.

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kevin Hegarty said the decision was consistent with the advice of an independent commissioning adviser appointed last year and will ensure a safe and clinically robust commissioning process.

The $2b hospital will now open in April 2017 with 450 beds, with the ability to grow to more than 738. It is being built under a public private partnership contract between the state and federal governments and a consortium called Exemplar Health, comprising Lendlease, Siemens, Capella Capital and Spotless Facilities Services.

According to the most recent construction update from Lendlease, after construction defect rectification and onsite validation in the first quarter of the year, the ICT network will go live to allow systems and devices to be connected and integrated. All fixed and loose medical equipment will be delivered to the site and undergo testing, tagging and placement in their final locations.

Mr Hegarty said the construction will probably finish on time in August, but the hospital needed more time for commissioning.

In a letter to staff today, Mr Hegarty said the opening date of November 16, 2016, was chosen back when the PPP contract was signed in June 2012. “A lot has changed since then,” Mr Hegarty said.

“We are implementing medical equipment and information technology that had not even been developed at the time the contract was signed.

“The change will ensure that we have the access and time to undertake the essential preparation prior to treating our first patients at the new hospital.”

He told reporters today that the health service needed to ensure that clinical staff coming from Nambour or Caloundra hospitals had the time to experience the new environment. In addition to high-tech medical equipment, the hospital will feature new technology not seen in a public hospital in Queensland before, he said.

The hospital will feature an “integrated system where not only do the individual items of medical equipment have to function but they all link back into an integrated network so that the information on the patient is gathered appropriately,” he said.

“We will be the first public hospital in Queensland to utilise automatic guided vehicles, there is smart technology that will assist in moving the meals and other supplies throughout the large facility, a whole range of technology that has us at the cutting edge. We want to not just install that but make sure it is operational and that our staff are familiar with it, and this extra time will allow us to do that and do it right.”

The hospital – formerly known as Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital before the 'public' was dropped by the current government for being unnecessary – will open with a scanned medical record solution initially before moving to a fully electronic medical record after about 18 months. Cerner's integrated EMR (iEMR) is being rolled out to tertiary hospitals throughout the state.

Extra money was allocated in the 2015 state budget to ensure that the operational commissioning of the hospital did not face the same problems as those faced by the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital when it opened last year in 2014.

The chaotic opening of Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, which saw a blow-out in the ICT budget and confusion over medical records due to the combination of staff from two different hospitals, was cited by Mr Hegarty as an example of how commissioning shouldn't be rushed.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Tags: iEMR, Sunshine Coast University Hospital

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