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New Children’s Hospital officially handed over in Helsinki

Nearly a quarter of the 170-million-euro cost of Helsinki's new Children’s Hospital was raised through a public fund drive.

uusi lastensairaala
The new facility in the Meilahti district will open next autumn. Image: Esko Jämsä / AOP

Helsinki’s New Children’s Hospital was officially handed over to the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) on Friday. The facility will gradually begin admitting patients next autumn.

Construction of the hospital cost about 170 million euros. Nearly 40 million of that was gathered through a fundraising campaign.

“Today we received something that has been achieved through an absolutely unbelievable common effort,” says the director of the new hospital, Jari Petäjä, who is now director of the Children and Adolescents Department at HUS.

The hospital will treat patients up to age 15 from all over the country, with virtually all heart surgery and organ transplants to be carried out at the facility.

One of the most significant improvements about the new building is that it will enable parents or guardians to be more present when their youngsters are hospitalised.

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Mervi Taskinen ja Jari Petäjä
Mervi Taskinen and Jari Petäjä on Yle's 18 May breakfast show Image: Yle

"For instance, parents will now have the opportunity to stay overnight at the hospital. And, as much as possible, we’ll try to bring treatments to the patients’ rooms whereas in the past they have usually been taken to specific treatment wards,” Mervi Taskinen, chief of the paediatric oncology and haematology clinic at HUS, said on Yle TV on Friday morning.

Avatars and location technology

The New Children’s Hospital has been eagerly awaited, as the old facility is cramped and outdated, and various wards have relocated elsewhere in recent years. The new structure is more spacious, with state-of-the-art building technology and better air quality.

"The old building has had serious problems for years, which have caused trouble for the staff,” says paediatrician Pekka Lahdenne, head of functional planning for the new Children's Hospital.

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The new facility is designed to be spacious and easy to navigate. Image: Matti Snellman / HUS

The new one has been designed to better serve young patients. For instance they will be asked to choose an avatar, which will be used by the notification system.

"When their avatar starts to blink on the wall outside a reception room, they’ll know it’s time to go in,” explains Lahdenne.

Old facility’s fate uncertain

The amount of floor space earmarked for administrative functions has been minimised to allow more for the hospital itself. New location technology is aimed at making life easier for patients, families and staff.

"For instance staff name tags will have electronic tags so that they can be located. This will allow us to see whether some department has too many or too few care professionals in relation to the number of patients,” says Lahdenne. The system will make it easier to track where patients are and at what stage of treatment they are at any given time.

The fate of the old children’s hospital, which dates back to 1948, remains unclear.

Petäjä says that the former hospital, known as Lastenlinna, could be overhauled for another purpose but that its future is uncertain. Renovations will begin after all functions are moved to the new hospital. In the near future, at least the 70-year-old building will likely be used for adult surgical procedures.

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