Moving a hospital

October 22, 2014

Charleroi, Belgium
By Yves Herman

This was a very unusual move – an entire hospital. Patients and equipment were transferred from the Old Civil Hospital in Charleroi to a new building a few miles away. It was also a race against time, as the whole operation had to be completed within a weekend.

A doctor and a nurse sits in an ambulance transporting a premature baby at Civil Hospital during the relocation of the hospital of Charleroi

The transfer, which took months to prepare, was a critical operation for the hospital and the stress among the staff was intense. Nothing could be left to chance concerning the health of the patients.

Doctors and nurses transport a patient while arriving at the new Civil Hospital (CHU) during the relocation of the hospital of Charleroi,

The relocation of 146 people to the new building, the “Marie Curie,” was considered by local authorities to be the biggest transportation move of patients in one operation in Europe, in the last 50 years.

Some 1,200 staff took part in the operation: doctors and nurses, as well as specialized technicians took care of the medical equipment such as incubators and respirators.

Doctors and nurses transport a premature baby at Civil Hospital during the relocation of the hospital of Charleroi

Eleven babies in neonatal wards and 18 intensive care patients were among those transferred. Relocating these patients was a huge challenge as their medical apparatus had to be moved with them.

Neonatal cots were surrounded by a large numbers of practitioners and nurses and all movement had to be carried out with utmost care.

A premature baby at Civil Hospital (CHU) waits in an incubator during the relocation of the hospital of Charleroi, southern Belgium, to another one a few miles away

Local police blocked traffic to open a corridor for the ten ambulances and six buses used during the relocation.

A particular difficulty was that all these sensitive actions and decision had to be repeated many times in a short period of time.

Keeping control of stress levels and being prepared in case of emergency were among the biggest challenges of this amazing operation.

All went according to plan, and I would like to say a heartfelt “well done” to all the staff involved.

A nurse signs on a wall of a room at the emergency unit of Civil Hospital during the relocation of the hospital of Charleroi

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