It’s the final countdown and the preparations for the transition to the new and futuristic Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) are underway with only three sleeps to go until the emergency department officially opened its doors at 7.00 am yesterday, Tuesday 5 September.

“The new Royal Adelaide Hospital is truly a piece of art and it was certainly something Adelaide needed because the old RAH was looking tired and outdated,” says Greek Australian boxing coach Paul Panos who was the first patient at the new RAH last week.

After undergoing a kidney transplant in 2011, Panos has been attending the old RAH every three months for a check-up with his specialist, Dr Phillip Clayton, but this was the first time he visited the new facility at the new RAH.

“I have had five operations in the last five years and I have had to go in and out of hospital many times; I am just so happy with the result, because the old RAH was so old that it felt more like a cold jail than a hospital,” says 51-year-old Panos in an interview with Neos Kosmos.

Australia’s most expensive hospital, which has also been referred to as the third most expensive building in the world at a cost of $2.3 billion dollars, features robotic technology, state-of-the-art high tech equipment, a rooftop helipad with a capacity of two simultaneous helicopter landings, 800 patient beds, touch screens, 70 cubicles in the emergency department and 132 consult rooms for outpatients.

The new facility has been designed to ensure the most effective flow of patients to the care they need.

A strong focus on natural light and environment combine with 100 per cent single overnight patient rooms to create the best possible healing environment with greater levels of privacy, comfort, and infection control.
According to the new RAH Commissioning Director Elke Kropf, the new hospital is more than just a building.
“It’s a hospital for the future,” Kropf said to the press.

“Over the last decade, there have been so many advances in technology in so many industries and health has often lagged behind. I think the hospital is built for the next 70 to 100 years, so we do have to invest in technology to get more efficient and to allow staff to actually process more patients.”
According to ABC News, South Australian Health Minister Jack Snelling also said that the new RAH, which has been plagued with controversy right from the start, particularly due to delays and its high cost, was a gamechanger for healthcare in South Australia.

“In just a few short months, the expanded services, advanced technology and improvement to the delivery of patient wellbeing will speak entirely for itself,” said the minister while SA Premier Jay Weatherill described the RAH’s opening as “one of the most significant events in our great state’s history.

“This old Royal Adelaide Hospital has been operating for 176 years, so this is an event that only happens every couple of centuries,” said the premier.

Termed the most technologically advanced hospital in Australia, the new RAH is equipped with technology to assist medical and non-medical staff in providing better care and making the patients’ lives more pleasant and comfortable while they are being treated.

For the first time in Australian medical history, 1800 Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) will be used on a daily basis assisting medical staff in all the ward. They are basically 1.6 metre-long stainless steel robotic devices manufactured to carry large trolleys with goods at average walking pace, enter the hospital’s lifts, walk through designed doors within the hospital’s premises, and communicate with portable phones through voice recognition.
There is also an automated pharmacy distribution system and automated pharmacy cabinets which will make the access and dispensing of medication easier, faster and safer for the medical staff of the RAH.

“Our pharmacy staff are incredibly excited to be moving from a very manual system to an automated system,” Ms Kropf said to local press last week while she revealed that doctors and nurses at all the new RAH inpatient wings will have 24/7 access to an increased range of prescribed medications, thanks to 117 automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs), which will be activated through a fingerprint or password login.

SA Pharmacy executive director Steve Morris explained that the new electronic system will be used to order, dispense, and track medicine, replacing the numerous shelves and cupboards that currently serve as drug storage areas, increasing safety and efficiency, allowing clinical staff to spend more time caring for their patients.

Other features of the new RAH include:

– The largest fully automated $4 million microbiology laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere, which will speed up the diagnosis and treat infectious diseases, such as pneumonia and meningitis. The system is believed to speed up results by 40 per cent.
– Distributed medical imaging which will work on a distributed model, with machines located in various sections of the hospital, rather than in one central location. This method is anticipated to reduce the need to move patients around the hospital and prevent delays to inpatient and outpatient scans.
– Electronic tags, which will allow staff to quickly check the whereabouts of equipment and to prevent theft. Tags will also be put on at-risk patients with alerts automatically being sent to staff should they leave a restricted area.
– Wireless patient nurse call system in every room. Wifi technology will enable nurses to respond to patients wherever they are, before attending to them in their rooms.
– Electronic bedside devices so that at the touch of a button, all patients can manage their in-room entertainment and order their own meals.
– Self-serve electronic kiosks which will provide directions and print out maps of the different RAH clinics to help visitors find their way.

“Something needed to be done and although the government went over the budget and the project was delayed, I do believe that the new RAH is a great asset for us and it was worth the money so that all people can be treated in the best possible way,” concluded Paul Panos.