North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary: Preparations for big move have been planned for months ...
NURSES worked overnight right through the weekend to make sure today's historic move from the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary went without a hitch.
Months of fine-tuning had already gone into preparing for the switch of kidney services from its creaking Victorian setting to a state-of-the-art unit.
The transfer of the dialysis centre from a portable building at the NSRI into the first floor of the new two-storey £12 million complex was the less critical part of the manoeuvre.
Around 100 people receive dialysis treatment every day – but as patients are never called in on Sundays, the final four-hour procedure ended at 10.30pm on Saturday.
Visiting the Home & Garden show this Sunday?
We will have some exclusive deals for you so make sure you visit our stand and say hello
Terms: With free entry just visit the show at the Moat House hotel Festival Park between 11am and 4pm and pick up a leaflet
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Sunday, June 23 2013
The first dialysis sessions to take place in the new centre were booked in for 7am today.
But time was more of the essence for the switch from the 24-bed ward of patients acutely ill with kidney-related conditions.
A fleet of ambulances was being laid on for the 10-minute ride to the new ward – with specialists in the back for each journey.
The new ward 124 boasts extra beds, including four rooms for assessment trolleys for the first time. Fourteen of the beds are in private rooms, compared with four in the old unit. All side rooms have en-suite facilities, compared with just one at the NSRI.
And thanks to a £60,000 donation from the British Kidney Association, grants from the local branch of the group and a charity fund-raising appeal, all beds and dialysis stations will have televisions.
With 50 stations, the new dialysis ward has 10 more than at the NSRI in response to an annual six per cent rise in patients with failing kidneys.
The bays are more private, bigger, quieter and lighter than before to give more chance of people having peace for the four-hour procedure needed three times a week.
A welcoming mural has been painted in the reception by Stoke artist Emma Joustra.
Renal physician Dr Kerry Tomlinson, pictured left, who has been at the hospital for 10 years, said: "There is some sadness about leaving the old place but these new bespoke facilities are fantastic.
"Being the last speciality to move has allowed us to learn lessons from when other departments switched to the new site earlier in the year.
"The wards may be brand new but the high levels of care and the family feel our patients value will never be lost.
"It has been strange to be the only service left in such a big, old hospital but we have made doubly sure of no clinical risks involved in patients being on a different site than other services.
"Not only will having so many single rooms improve privacy, it also reduces the risk of infections spreading."
Fellow kidney specialist Dr Gavin Russell, who is also the hospital's medical director, has always pushed to shift care into facilities befitting the 21st century.
He was appointed in 1987 at a time when patients were having to temporarily leave their beds to let others have dialysis.
He said: "That changed when a unit opened but it was still in a temporary building. And shortly before my time people aged over 50 would never be given dialysis.
"We were constantly told new facilities were five years off so it's hard to believe they are finally open.
"Just look at the smiles on patients' faces to see what they think of the new place."
Former driving instructor Frank Burrows, aged 59, of Norton, who has a chest infection linked to his kidney problems, was one of the final patients to be discharged from the ward at the weekend.
He said: "It has been strange to walk outside and see no people around.
"The building might be old but the staff are absolute stars and the care is superb. "I just hope that will continue in the new place."