Delivering a world class facility to meet Australia's future healthcare needs

By John Connole
Friday, 19 October, 2012

Lend Lease is one of the world’s leading project management and construction companies, known for our ability to create and deliver high quality projects on time and on budget. We've partnered with government and the private sector to deliver some of Australia’s major healthcare projects, including the new Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in Melbourne.

The hospital is being delivered as a public private partnership (PPP) under the State Government’s Partnerships Victoria policy. We’re a key member of the Children’s Health Partnership consortium, and are responsible for the design, construction, commissioning and transition of the facility.

Lend Lease Project Director David O’Shaughnessy has led the Lend Lease RCH team for four years and believes that as a long-term PPP, relationships were key to the successful completion of the project.

“Building successful partnerships with project partners, government, users, advisers, designers, subcontractors and suppliers was the key to delivering the best results. It’s about collaboration. Everyone worked towards a common goal and shared the same passion for the project.”

A visionary design brief, on a unique site, gave Lend Lease the opportunity to lead the creation of an exceptional design solution and deliver a facility beyond the client’s expectations.

The RCH is one of the world’s leading paediatric hospitals and it was imperative that the new hospital design and build reflected the very complex, ground– breaking work the hospital performs. Critical to this was the input from staff in the design process through the 74 user groups and 15 reference groups formed to represent the tenants, The Royal Children’s Hospital, The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the University of Melbourne - Department of Paediatrics. Lend Lease met with these groups in excess of 1,500 times to ensure the clinical objectives were met.

As one of Australia’s largest hospital projects, with a peak construction workforce of over 2,100, the sheer scale and complexity presented coordination and logistical challenges. Constructed adjacent to the then existing hospital, and working within the existing operational facility, the project commenced excavation one month after contract close and the design process had only just commenced.

From the outset, the team’s pre-construction focus was managing the logistics of the immense site and carefully planning for all safety implications. This resulted in a range of innovative traffic and site management initiatives that contributed to the strong safety record of the project and an industry award winning health and safety program.

Lend Lease’s role involved the selection, procurement, integration and commissioning of more than 60,000 items of medical and non medical equipment, from the interoperative MRI to the bed linen. We established our own biomedical testing area to specifically test 4,500 specialist medical items.

Commissioning and validating the 140,000m2 of clinical space required a 12 month series of user inspections and an independent review of over 5,000 commissioning tests over the fully integrated facility.

The moving of over 10,000 individual equipment items and more than 4,000 staff in the three week transition period required more than 18 months of detailed planning by Lend Lease and The Royal Children’s Hospital prior to completion, culminating in the successful patient move on the 30th November 2011.

The new RCH is Australia’s greenest hospital; this is one of its strongest points of difference. Energy efficient measures including an on-site gas tri-generation power plant, solar panels and a biomass fuel boiler will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent. A blackwater treatment system, rainwater collection, water efficient fittings and water-conscious landscaping will result in a 20 per cent reduction in water use.

The nature of such a project had a considerable impact on the staff, both within Lend Lease and subcontractors. The team was extremely passionate about this project and the significant benefits a facility of this sophistication would deliver to the community.

“Four years is a long time for a high pressured, complex and demanding construction project. We tried spreading our influence beyond construction by introducing a raft of initiatives that the whole team could feel a part of. We named our nine cranes after 10 young patients, offered the skills of our team and those of our subcontractors for the creation of the Starlight Express Room, and engaged disadvantaged young people from the neighbouring Kensington High School in a work experience program,” O’Shaughnessy said.

The design and construction of the new RCH required extensive project management expertise, an in-depth understanding of the health sector, and the ability to manage an extensive group of stakeholders.

The collaborative and successful partnerships teamed with these specialist expertise have resulted in the creation of one of the very best user-centred, inspirational healthcare facilities for patients, staff and visitors.

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