About The Children's Hospital at Westmead
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead provides quality care and clinical services to 80,000 sick and injured children each year. It is the largest paediatric centre in NSW and provides excellent care for children from NSW, Australia and across the Pacific Rim. Specialist care is provided to children within a positive, caring and healing environment.
Our clinical expertise, community education, advocacy for improved child health and ground-breaking research into childhood illnesses combine to make The Children’s Hospital at Westmead a world-class institution.
Past and present
Established in 1880 with the name The Sydney Hospital for Sick Children, its name was changed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children on 4 January 1904 when King Edward VII granted use of the appellation ‘Royal’ and his consort, Queen Alexandra, agreed to the use of her name.
Originally based at Glebe Point, it quickly outgrew its small building and relocated in 1906 to Camperdown, where it remained for 89 years until its move to Westmead in 1995 to better serve the growing region of Western Sydney. This move involved amalgamation with most of the paediatric services of nearby Westmead Hospital, and it was renamed The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is a public hospital and registered charity, with more than 3,500 staff working in 150 departments. Sick children and their families are cared for each year in a family-focused healing environment – including 29,000 inpatient admissions, 51,000 emergency department presentations and 961,000 outpatient occasions of service.
Children with problems such as severe burns, major heart conditions and liver and kidney diseases are referred to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead because it houses leading speciality units within the hospital grounds. The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is home to the NSW Paediatric Burns Unit, the NSW Paediatric Liver Transplant Unit, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, the first Paediatric Tumour Bank in the southern hemisphere, the NSW Newborn Screening Service and the National Poisons Information Centre.
Research is one of the key ways in which the hospital provides the highest standard of care and treatment to sick children and their families. The Kids Research Institute at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead undertakes cutting-edge research into childhood diseases, resulting in significant advances in the treatment of cancer, obesity, kidney, heart and respiratory problems, diabetes and muscular dystrophy.
Beyond our walls
At The Children's Hospital at Westmead, we try to reduce the anxiety and disruption to our children and their families by keeping their stay in hospital as short as possible. We do this by providing day-only surgery and a range of innovative programs where as much care as possible is provided on an outpatient basis.
We have introduced and are committed to expanding our Outreach Services so that some children need not visit the Hospital at all. This takes a lot of extra work and co-ordination, but for the children and their families it's well worth the effort.
Ensuring that sick children living in the country are not disadvantaged by distance is a priority. One way we achieve this is through outreach clinics, where our doctors go to the children. Outreach clinics are very much a part of our commitment to improve clinical services to the community and to allow fair access to the best medical care.
Already children in remote areas all over New South Wales have access to expert treatment through our telepsychiatry service. Other examples include an outreach service for children with cystic fibrosis to have their intravenous treatment at home. Children needing 24 hour oxygen therapy now can have this in their own homes as well. Children with severe eczema now attend a day treatment centre rather than spend 7 - 8 days in hospital as in the past.
For more information, you can call us on (02) 9845 0000.
Ensuring that sick children living in the country are not disadvantaged by distance is a priority with The Children's Hospital at Westmead. It's very much a part of our commitment to improve clinical services to the community and to allow fair access to the best medical care.
One of our methods is through outreach clinics, where we take our doctors to the sick children. In this way, many of the traumas often associated with country children having to come to the city (not the least of which is the disruption to normal family life) are minimised, and sometimes eliminated altogether.
During outreach clinics, specialist doctors travel to regional centres for consultations with local children, who can either be regular recipients of treatment (for example, diabetic children), former patients of the Hospital or newly referred patients.
Outreach clinics are an invaluable process by which the seriousness of a sick child can be ascertained, usually when the local doctor is aware that a case is beyond their diagnostic ability. For example, a child may have a heart murmur which the visiting specialist can assess. Should it not be a source of concern, then there is no need for that child to be taken to the city to hospital. On the other hand, the specialist may recommend that the child does need further tests, and in that case, a trip to the city is well justified.
The frequency and duration of the country clinics varies - depending on demand and local services - and can range from four days a year, to weekly. Currently there are 26 regional centres who host outreach clinics from 18 departments from the Hospital:
- Adolescent Medicine
- Child Protection Unit
- Clinical Genetics
- Ear Nose & Throat
- Genetic Metabolic Service
- Paediatric Surgery
- Psychological Medicine
- Respiratory Medicine
- Spina Bifida.
These Departments, through their outreach clinics, have provided excellent service models. Increasingly, the trend is to work with local communities so we can align our services and philosophy of care much closer to their needs. With increased use of technology, a true, co-ordinated "shared care" approach can be established with other health workers in regional centres. This also helps overcome the problem of the professional isolation faced by some health workers.
Recent years have seen a significant expansion of some outreach clinics, for example general medicine, diabetes, ophthalmology, and in clinical departments which treat osteoporosis and genetic conditions. The Department of Oncology is currently exploring the possibility of a "different" type of outreach clinic, where the focus is more on skills-upgrading of the local doctors rather than the treatment of patients.
An ever-growing demand, as well as technological advances in communication, has led to not only the expansion of outreach clinics, but outreach services generally. Falling under the umbrella of Telehealth, Telepsychiatry and Teleradiology now provide services to country areas. Telepsychiatry, which offers skilled psychiatry to where it is most needed, has now been established in collaboration with seven rural Area Health Services. The Department of Teleradiology has successfully completed a teleradiology trial with Dubbo Hospital and negotiations to establish this service to other regional hospitals are continuing. Teleradiology is now also linked to radiologists at home and selective hospitals in the Greater Western Sydney area.
Total healing environment
Coming to hospital for many families is a path to healing. For others it is a journey searching for a cure and for most, it is a path to better health. The Children’s Hospital at Westmead takes a holistic approach to providing care for sick children and our journey is always one of creating a path to wellbeing.
The Children's Hospital at Westmead was built from the ground up with the needs of patients and families in mind. We recognise that healing doesn't just happen through medical treatments, operations and medications. The Hospital environment is vitally important in the path to wellness, assisting with overall healing and creating an uplifting mood and positive memorable experiences for families.
For this reason, we have a range of play areas, gardens, art installations, entertainment and special programs available.
Art is a very important aspect of The Children's Hospital at Westmead's approach to healing.
Artworks are chosen to provide comfort, delight and interest to patients and families, many of whom spend long periods of time in the Hospital.
The Hospital is a registered art gallery, with a large collection of artworks on display, including some valuable works by renowned artists.
There are over 1000 catalogued artworks on display. The collection contains all major art media -painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, fabric, glass, and posters. and a variety of significant contemporary Australian artist are represented.
Works have been donated by artists, Art Gallery of NSW and of course children from NSW schools and patients themselves as a part of Operation Art
Operation Art is a program which encourages young people to create artworks for children at The Children's Hospital at Westmead.
It is an initiative of The Children's Hospital at Westmead, The New South Wales Department of Education and Training and The Art Gallery of New South Wales while The Regional Touring Exhibition is supported through the generous partnership with The Nelson Meers Foundation.
Operation Art is a way of involving young people in the special work of The Children's Hospital at Westmead - a total healing environment where design, decoration, facilities, gardens and art combine with the best possible medical care to help heal all the patients.
Youth Arts Program
The Youth Arts Program is a creative arts program for adolescents who are current patients of the Hospital. Activities include photography, video, ceramics, sculpture, drawing and painting, creative writing, printmaking and craft.
Art groups are held as part of the Department of Adolescent Medicine Groupwork Program. Groups run from 2pm to 3.30pm on most weekdays. Individual and small group sessions are also held with an Artsworker.
The aim is to have fun, socialise with other adolescents, help create special spaces within the Hospital and take 'time out' from illness and get creative in a way that is valuable to wellbeing.
The labyrinth was installed in 2012, the first in an Australian hospital. It has one path so no decisions are needed. Walking the labyrinth helps mindfulness, reflection and relaxation for young patients, families and staff.
It is an exact size replica of the famous 13th century medieval labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France.
The 35 different garden spaces have become an integral part of the Hospital experience for patients, families, staff and visitors. The Children's Garden on Level 1 has open space, a playground and an aviary. The avenue leads to the Labyrinth and the Aboriginal Garden. There are a number of garden courtyards, many featuring sculptures. The Emergency Department opens on to a fantasy courtyard garden.
The gardens are a key element of the total healing environment. The landscape design philosophy was to provide an appropriate landscape setting which maximised the site attributes, offered comfort and respite for sick children and their carers, and provide a strong positive community identity.
Originally designed for the most part by the Public Works Department, the gardens were primarily built by Coordinated Landscapes.
In all areas of the gardens which are accessible to children at the Hospital, plantings are of species which are non-toxic, and without thorns or other dangerous features. In many sections, plants have been chosen for their notable fragrance or texture, so that sight-impaired children can enjoy aspects of the gardens. The planting strategy incorporated trees with high heritage value in the local area, and bird attracting plants feature in many areas.
Some of the jacarandas planted in the gardens were grown from seed from an old tree in a well-used courtyard at the hospital’s long time Camperdown site and provide a significant historical connection for families and staff. Some of the trees are family memorials to children who have died during the hospital’s history.
The Chinese Garden
A quiet place to sit and relax, the garden features a waterfall, koi pond, and a pagoda. Designed by Henry Tsang, the Chinese garden was developed by Sydney’s Chinese community and inspired by the Chinese Garden at Darling Harbour.
The pagoda is made from rare black bamboo and Cathay Pacific flew Chinese workers in especially to construct the roof. Carvings of magpies on the panels in the pergola are symbols for happiness and good news. The singing of a magpie foretells happiness and good luck. That's why it is called 'Happy Magpie' by Chinese people. The Manchu minority in Northeast China even regards magpies as sacred birds. Peonies are also in the carved panels and symbolize fame and wealth.
The Aborginal Garden
The Aboriginal Children's Memorial Garden is a healing space for families whose children are being treated here at present and will be in the future. The garden features totems and a ground design with a central “fireplace” and was constructed with the assistance of aboriginal community input. It is situated near the end of the garden avenue. Find out more.
George Gregan Foundation Playground.
This playground is designed for all abilities. A much-loved feature is the pirate ship.
The first George Gregan Foundation playground opened in 2006 at the Children's Hospital in Westmead. The Foundation, established in August 2005, is a long term vision of George Gregan and his wife Erica. The idea for this Foundation was born in 2004 when their son Max was diagnosed with epilepsy. They spent time in hospital with Max and experienced firsthand the needs of many sick children and their families.
This peaceful garden can be visited only by appointment as it caters for immune-suppressed patients who cannot mix with the general population.
Take a tour
The Children's Hospital at Westmead is part of your community and we welcome inquiries about a visit to the Hospital. The Hospital conducts tours for schools, community organisations, donors, schools, and tertiary
institutions and other members of the general public, as well as tours for health professionals and visitors from locally and overseas. Resources are limited, so tours must be organised well in advance. Phone (02) 9845 3364 or e-mail Public Relations firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Melissa Doyle has been a passionate Ambassdor since 2006. She is a presenter and journalist with Channel Seven. After 14 years as the popular co-host of Sunrise, Mel moved on to head Seven Afternoon News with co-host Matt White in 2013.
Steve Jacobs is the weather presenter on Channel Nine’s TODAY Show and is also a talented actor, host, researcher, writer and producer. He has been an Ambassador since 2005.
Jessica Rowe, an Ambassador since 2004, is a TV presenter, author and journalist. She has worked with all thre commercial networks and is currently co-hosting Network Ten's morning program, Studio 10.
Louise Sauvage OAM, four time Paralympian wheelchair racer, won two gold and a silver medal at the Sydney Paralymics in 2000. Now she is Wheelchair Track & Road Elite Development Coach at the New South Wales Institute of Sport. Shas been a committed Ambassador since 2000.
Graduate Nurses Association
The Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (RAHC) Graduate Nurse’s Association (GNA) was established in 1946 by a number of senior RAHC Graduate nurses. At that time, membership of the GNA was open to all graduating nurses with the Director of Nursing traditionally being Patron of the GNA. Initial work of the GNA included fundraising to establish a scholarship fund to support nursing graduates attend university or college courses, study days, conferences, seminars and other educational opportunities. In 1989 the scholarship was named in honour of one of the founding members and is still known as the Miss MB (Mollie) Leane Fund.
The Mollie Leane Fund supported nurse education at a time when nurses were still training in the hospital setting by awarding monetary prizes to student nurses who attained high marks. In 1996, after nurse education moved to the university sector, the GNA continued to donate annual prizes for postgraduate paediatric courses. Scholarship prizes continue today as a way of encouraging the professional development of paediatric nurses.
When the hospital moved from Camperdown to the Westmead site in 1995, fundraising efforts of the GNA paid for: the refurbishment of the operating theatre waiting room; the purchase of vases for the quiet room; the restoration of the Venables House (Doulton) fountain; and the replica RAHC Graduate Nurses Badge which remains on the wall in the Galleria.
The GNA is still an active group with many of the elected Office Bearers being senior nurses currently working at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Although no longer engaged in active fund raising the GNA reunions, held every 2-5yrs, attract hundreds of RAHC trained nurses who come together as a group of interested and proud paediatric nurses. The GNA committee announces their achievements over the preceding few years at these reunions and it is the committee’s overall aim to ensure the ongoing integrity of our nursing history at RAHC remains.
The committee encourages new members to join at any time, to not only continue the history of Camperdown but also to and celebrate the profession of paediatric nursing. Contact Details RAHC graduate Nurses’ Association PO Box 202 Westmead NSW 2145, email@example.com or our face book group RAHC Graduate Nurses Association.