By Melissa Keogh
The Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) has entered a crucial chapter in its 140-year history, and UK-born health professional Lindsey Gough is excited to watch it unfold.
The biomedical scientist-turned-health executive became the Women’s and Children’s Health Network’s new CEO just one week before it was announced that the WCH would undergo a monumental move to the world-class new Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) precinct by 2024.
Lindsey, who has worked in Australia’s health system since 2009, says her top priority is to ensure the North Adelaide facility continues to provide the highest quality healthcare while the shift takes place.
She is one of 15 health experts appointed to a ministerial taskforce that is guiding the planning for the construction of a new WCH alongside the new RAH.
The taskforce will report back to the State Government on the capital cost, number of inpatient beds, types of services and models of care required by the end of 2018.
Lindsey says a co-location of the WCH with the new Royal Adelaide will mean better care for SA women and children.
“It will allow us to have new technology and state-of-the-art systems that we may not be able to put here because of the actual physical environment that constrains us,” she says.
“If we have a woman here who for whatever reason might need access to adult intensive care services, then that woman will be transferred to the Royal Adelaide.
“But if we’re closer to that hospital and in that precinct, it will mean we can transfer much more efficiently than we can now.”
A new WCH will be yet another huge phase in South Australia’s health system.
Last year the city celebrated the opening of the $2.3 billion new RAH, which joined a number of significant developments along North Terrace’s biomedical precinct.
This year is also a year of reflection for the WCH, which celebrated its 140th birthday on Wednesday, June 20.
Established as the Adelaide Children’s Hospital in 1876, the WCH was the country’s first hospital to specialise in health services for women, children and young people.
Now, the hospital is part of a wider network, the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, which includes a string of family support, mental health, child protection, disability support and sexual assault services across the state.
The network employs 3500 people.
More than 48,000 women and children present to the WCH’s emergency department, while 4800 babies are born, and 230,000 outpatients receive care there every year.
Lindsey landed the top job just two months ago, bringing with her 36 years of experience in health care in the UK and Australia.
She began her health career as a biomedical scientist, spending her time in pathology labs, before completing a master’s degree in management and moving into mainstream hospital roles.
In 2009 Lindsey and husband Paul decided to emigrate to Australia after travelling Down Under various times and falling in love with the landscape.
Upon arriving here, Lindsey became the general manager of the RAH, before exploring other states and taking on executive roles at hospitals on the Gold Coast and in Western NSW.
But something about her time in Adelaide stuck.
“We always said we wanted to come back to Adelaide, it’s our Australia home,” she says.
“When this job (WCH) was advertised I knew it was the right one for me.”
Lindsey says working every day in an environment with sick children and their families can be “really hard”, but it is also rewarding.
The hospital is often visited by the Humour Foundation’s Clown Doctors who bring laughter to many sick children, while play therapists and dress up days also help to bring optimism to little lives going through the darkest of times.
Lindsey says it’s impossible to not be touched by the emotion at the WCH.
“When you’re going around the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, it does make you emotional,” she says.
“But even though I’m in a management role now, I know what I’m doing each day contributes to helping sick kids and their families.
“Walking down the corridors and seeing the smiles on people’s faces, that’s what makes it worthwhile.”
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