#97 World-class maternity and paediatric services for Melbourne’s west

Photo: paediatric patient move

21 August 2019

Western Health has a brand new site for women’s and children’s services at Sunshine Hospital following the opening of the Joan Kirner building in May.

The new site houses 20 maternity delivery rooms, including a number with birthing baths, 39 special care nursery cots, four theatres and much-needed additional space for its busy women’s and children’s specialist clinics. The special care nursery level also has capacity for four neonatal intensive care unit beds, the first such facility to be built anywhere in the western suburbs. 

Public areas across the eight-storey-over-basement facility are designed to a high standard and include amenities such as outdoor balconies and play spaces on various levels, as well as an interactive play wall and various striking art installations on the ground floor.

Following the commencement of construction in November 2016, the building phase featured some impressive statistics including 5,500 tonnes of panelling used along with 38,000 square metres of plasterboard and 9,700 cubic metres of concrete - enough to fill almost four Olympic-size swimming pools.

The resulting $200 million building was officially opened by the Victorian Minister for Health, The Hon. Jenny Mikakos on Sunday 5 May, with a crowd of over 3,000 later attending a public open day featuring tours of the new facilities.

Patients were moved to the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s on Wednesday 15 May, in what was a huge logistical operation involving some 200 staff and 40 volunteers, transferring 137 patients from the old accommodation to their new beds. It was the single largest move operation in Western Health’s history.

The entire undertaking occurred smoothly and without incident and the vast majority of patients were moved across in the space of just four hours through link corridors. Specialist clinics commenced operation on Monday 20 May, meaning the new site is now fully functional for both inpatients and outpatients.

Overall, around 150 nurses and midwives will be added to the workforce as the service moves from the current level of around 5,500 births per year to an expected 7,000 by 2026.

Over 100 babies were delivered within the first week of the new birthing rooms and theatres opening, meaning the new space is already well on its way to catering for more births. They followed on from the first baby to be born at the Joan Kirner building - Tallia Baez-Mikhael, who promptly arrived at 9.22am on the morning of the move.

The building also contains a number of tributes and references to the eponymous Joan Kirner, Victoria’s first female premier. The towering five-metre statue of ‘Joy’ (pictured below), designed by Renata Slusarski from the BigFish agency that previously created an instillation for the Joan Kirner House in Williamstown, commemorates the politician’s spirit in the ground floor atrium. The figure is imprinted with images of rare and vulnerable Victorian plants and animals which Joan Kirner helped to protect under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Actof 1988.

Further images of a similar nature can be found in a public corridor on the ground floor and a plaque featuring a picture of Joan Kirner was also unveiled by the late premier’s husband, Ron Kirner at the official opening ceremony. 

Members of the Kirner family were present at the opening and attended a tour of the facility alongside the Health Minister, Western Health CEO Russell Harrison and Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority CEO, Robert Fiske.

With this monumental project now complete, further exciting developments are getting underway for Western Health with the start of works on an emergency department expansion at Sunshine Hospital set to be swiftly followed by the commencement of construction for the new $1.5 billion Footscray Hospital.


This article appears in the August 2019 edition of Vicdoc magazine.

AMA Victoria Preferred Suppliers