After more than seven years of planning and construction, the new Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) was officially opened this morning by Her Majesty The Queen.
The regal affair saw The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh welcomed at the Emergency entrance of the hospital by a sea of excited patients, families and staff waving Australian flags.
Siblings Shannon and Brooke Dance, both long-term RCH patients, had the important task of opening the doors for The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh as they stepped out from their Royal vehicle.
They were met by members of the Official Party, including the Premier of Victoria, RCH Chairman Tony Beddison AO and RCH CEO Professor Christine Kilpatrick, before taking a tour of the wonderful new hospital.
In the Emergency General Assessment and Treatment Area, The Queen chatted to two-year-old patient Amelia Petrie and family, who presented The Queen with a bouquet of flowers. Amelia was admitted to the RCH earlier this year with severe head injuries after being knocked unconscious by a horse.
The Duke of Edinburgh spoke with six-year-old Lewis Farrell and family in the Emergency General Assessment and Treatment Area. Lewis was born with an extremely rare throat condition, and surgeons from the RCH used cartilage from his ribs to reconstruct his airways.
Dr Fiona Brown, Dr Franz Babel, Dr Simon Young and Jayne Hughan represented the RCH Emergency team.
The next stage of the tour was the Inpatient Unit. Volunteer Di Zock greeted The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh at the Tree Tops level volunteer desk, before both parted for individual tours.
The Queen visited patients engaged in various educational activities in The Nest – the activity room of the Koala (cardiac surgery) ward. Patients included Yuli Mori (5 years), Breanna Hinchcliffe (11 years), Nathan Sullivan (6 years), Khya Anderson-Clark (10 years) and Leanna Babet (19 years). Educational Play Therapy Manager Louise Marbina was joined by RCH Education Institute staff Emma Fraser and Mikaela Little.
For most of her life, Yuli has been treated by the RCH gastroenterology team for short gut syndrome. Breanna was born with Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition which causes facial paralysis and has undergone numerous surgeries at the RCH. At just eight years of age Khya received burns on his upper torso after petrol was thrown on a nearby fire and he continues to receive treatment at the RCH. Leanna has been a patient at the RCH her entire life receiving treatment for cystic fibrosis. Leanna also turned the first sod at the site of the new RCH.
The Queen toured the cardiac ward, where she met two-year-old Scarlett McGowan, who was the first child in Australia to receive an ABO incompatible heart transplant. Scarlett was joined by Director of Cardiac Surgery Associate Professor Christian Brizard and Cardiac Nurse Unit Manager Danielle Peucker.
Meanwhile, The Duke of Edinburgh received a demonstration of the intraoperative MRI machine by Director of Neurosurgery Wirginia Maixner and Director of Cardiology Associate Professor Michael Cheung.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh regrouped to visit the meerkat enclosure, a key feature of the new RCH Specialist Clinics. There to introduce them to the space were seven patients: Brooke Kennedy (13 years), Jordan Manos (9 years), Isaac Jones (3 years), Pandora Humphries (7 years), Emily Blake (11 years), Todd Wilkinson (15 years) along with Director of Ambulatory Services Nellie Clear.
Brooke has rare developmental condition dystonia and was wheelchair-bound when first treated at the RCH. After treatment by RCH neurosurgeons, Brooke is now walking and playing tennis. Jordan is nearing the end of his treatment for neuroblastoma. Isaac underwent world-leading surgery at the RCH for a major craniofacial operation in 2009.
Pandora, who mastered a beautiful curtsy for The Queen, has been a patient at the RCH since a baby, when she received countless blood transfusions for a condition that caused her red blood cells to attack each other. Emily’s story touched the hearts of Victorians when she was admitted to the RCH after receiving severe head injuries when her school bus crashed into a truck. Todd was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and has undergone numerous surgeries with RCH cardiac surgeons. Todd is now living a full and active life and was recently a ball boy at the Australian Open.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh then took centre stage in the hospital’s major atrium, Main Street, where they were welcomed by the Premier and the RCH Chairman. To officially open the new RCH, The Queen unveiled a beautiful commemorative plaque. Patients Haylee Lester (12 years) and Ilario Franco (11 years) presented The Queen with a special gift – a book of drawings prepared by fellow patients at the RCH.
After signing the guestbook The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh met twins Krishna and Trishna who presented The Queen with flowers, alongside their guardian Moira Kelly AO. Krishna and Trishna made news around the world when the RCH, led by Wirginia Maixner, separated the formally conjoined twins in a mammoth 32-hour surgery in November 2009.
After a gracious and memorable tour The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were farewelled by RCH patients Jordyn Griffin (16 years), who at nine months of age, was the youngest baby to receive a liver transplant in Australia, and James Williams (18 years) who has osteogenisis imperfecta, and is a long term patient at the RCH. Both Jordyn and James had the honour of opening the Royal car doors for Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, before waving goodbye.
Right: The Queen is presented a gift on stage by RCH patients Haylee Lester and Ilario Franco
Read the Herald Sun story: New Royal Children’s Hospital ‘jewel in the crown’
Read the Age story: Queen reigns on hospital parade
Read the Daily Mail story: Colour clash leaves Queen tickled pink