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Moving three hospitals is a truly major operation.

It takes many hands to turn a super-hospital plan into reality. Karen McLauchlan found out more

Moving house just once can be enough of a headache. So imagine doing it more than 1,000 times! That's the task that faced a Billingham removal firm when one of the region's biggest hospital projects got under way. Devereux Removals spent more than two years planning and carrying out the mammoth move to the James Cook University Hospital.

This saw South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust transfer all wards, departments and offices at Middlesbrough General Hospital, North Riding Infirmary and the neuro-rehabilitation unit at West Lane Hospital to the single site in Middlesbrough.

Devereux was just one of a number of firms which played a part in the creation of the state-of-the-art medical facility which cost more than pounds 150m.

The site now houses more than 1,000 beds in 60,000 sq m of new accommodation.

This is in addition to 11,000 sq m of refurbished buildings.

A central mall runs through the building, connecting outpatient departments on the ground floor from the north entrance right through to the south doors. Related departments lie next to each other, or above one another, ensuring easy access for patients.

Cardiothoracic, neurosciences, cancer services and children's departments are grouped together, to avoid patients being transported across the site.

Car parking has been vastly increased from 1,900 between the three sites to 2,400 at the single facility.

There is a regional spinal injuries unit, comprising of a high-dependency ward, five rehabilitation wards with specially designed bathrooms, single rooms, a restaurant, out-patient suite and half-way house.

And the Holistic Cancer Care Centre provides complementary therapies.

The James Cook University Hospital is one of the largest private finance initiative hospital projects in the county.

Main contractor was construction and support services giant Mowlem.

Working alongside it were firms including health sector building services specialist Crown House Engineering. It installed a huge integrated building management system in the new site to cover everything from nurse calls to fire alarms, all building services and even running and monitoring blood banks.

It provided mechanical, electrical and public health services on the project - including the 11,000 volt electricity mains supply, heating, water, domestic water, chilled water for air conditioning, medical gases, compressed air, sprinkler and fire alarm systems, lighting, security and CCTV systems and car park barriers.

Aqumen Services took care of some of the building work and facilities services. And HLM Design and Ove Arup helped shape the site as architects. State-of-the-art technology was used to see what life at the hospital would be like before work was completed.

Engineers and architects working at the site used Teesside University's Virtual Reality Centre to navigate their way round the hospital in advance of the finished project.

For Deveruex Removals, office and commercial manager Karl Devereux said: "We do many hospital moves during the course of a year, but this was certainly the biggest.

"We were on site for around a year and the planning began a year before that."

At the height of the work up to 50 staff with 10 vehicles were working at the site.

"There was a lot of project management work involved day-to-day and we had to keep up with the changes.

"But we worked with the staff at the trust as a team, which is why I think it went so smoothly."

But the move did bring with it some odd working hours. "When you move a department like accident and emergency you have to do it at their quietest time.

"Strangely enough that's between midnight and 3am - so we had to be ready to do the work then."

Another local firm which helped the new hospital take shape was Baydale Control Systems of Newton Aycliffe.

The company, which specialises in the installation of electronic management and security systems, fitted a state-of-the-art electronic car park payment system costing pounds 200,000.

The contract involved 14 pay and display machines in the nine visitor car parks - all linked to the hospital's building management system.

It also included a hands-free access system, complete with barriers to restrict entrance and signs to let drivers know if there are spaces.

Top team tackled massive project

The massive move involved:

* 335 offices

* 32 wards on the Middlesbrough site

* 24 wards transferred across from Middlesbrough General, North Riding Infirmary and West Lane.

* 1,100 patients

* 55 departments

* More than a million sets of notes had to be carefully looked after and moved

* The area covered for the new build and refurbishment to the existing hospital was 77,438 sq m - equivalent to 462 three- bedroom detached houses.

* 130 tonnes of rubble and soil were removed from the site

* 4.8m bricks were used

* At the height of the build 750 construction workers were on site - most of them locals

* 6,000 full and part-time staff work at the James Cook University Hospital

* Laundry staff wash around 5,000 sheets, pillowcases and other laundry items every week

* 220,000 meals, salads and sandwiches are prepared every month
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:North East Vision
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2003
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