It feels like it has been a week of firsts; first patient admitted, first baby born, first operation, first clinical meeting and, for many of us, the first time we have moved into a new hospital. Last weekend was momentous. In some ways it was momentous in its simplicity and monotonous regularity. We had a script, we followed it, and everything went to plan. Job done, easy. However I am not so sure it really was that easy. I will return to this shortly but before that a few reflections.
The weekend before the move John Glover (our retired Head of Communications) and the Dumfries Ukelele Band played Christmas Carols in the canteen to say farewell to ‘Old DGRI’ and a welcome to ‘Mountainhall Treatment Centre’ and the ‘New DGRI’. I was asked to say a few words after the singing and, the night before as I drove home, pondered on what I would say. My mind wandered around old DGRI taking in memories from the last 10 years. These memories centred on the Renal Unit, involving coffee and a lot of laughter, wards 7, 8 and 9 as well as most other areas. There was some sadness at the thought of patients lost and friends who have moved to new jobs but primarily I remembered all the fun. Every ward and every area drew forth memories of stories told and laughter had and before long I realised that what stuck in my minds eye most were the faces; the faces of people I had worked with, laughed with and, sometimes, cried with. It may seem obvious but it struck me then; this isn’t about buildings, bricks and mortar, its about people and hearts and minds. Yes, those of us moving will miss the old place but as long as we are together and embrace the new environment positively, we will be fine.
Which brings me to those who are not moving. This has been a particularly difficult period for our colleagues remaining at Mountainhall Treatment Centre, a building we have been told is not fit for purpose, needs lots of work done and has clearly been replaced. Most of them don’t get to go to the new shiny, fancy, ‘state-of-the-art’ building and grab a coffee in the atrium taking in the views. So what did they do last weekend? Well they rolled up their sleeves and asked how they could help. I saw many of them during the migration in both buildings ensuring the move was a smooth as possible. Colleagues, friends, members of Team DGRI, old and new. We cannot forget the challenges ahead and the project to refurbish the old Cresswell building is now gathering pace although it will take years to complete. We need to remember our friends in Mountainhall…even though they may find parking a little easier than most of us!
Lets return to how easy that move really was. One of our Emergency Department Consultants, Dave Pedley, said “well, it turns out that moving hospital is a piece of cake” and, last weekend, that is how it felt…but that is most certainly not the case. 18 months of planning, 3 months preparing the hospital for use and an enormous amount of dedication and hard work from so many of our staff ultimately made the move seamless. Which is the main reason I am writing this blog, to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone involved. I am going to desist from a ‘Oscars style’ list of names because it would go on for ever but suffice to say that there are a significant number of people out there who worked tirelessly to plan, prepare and then execute the move. Many folk have been sleeping in the hospital in makeshift beds for weeks, some have missed many, many weekends and there have been countless sleepless nights. It was their dedication that made the Migration so easy.
And then we come to the move itself. The clinical teams just rose to the occasion and made sure all patients were transferred safely, the Ambulance Service were outstanding and other partner agencies excelled themselves. It was an honour to be a part of the whole operation and I hope that all of us involved remember the atmosphere that filled the new hospital over those 3 days. It was electric, charged..everywhere I looked I saw smiles and laughter. As its Christmas time I think the best word to describe the feeling was…Jolly!
This is just the start. Many problems lie ahead and there are going to be some really difficult challenges to overcome but if we can continue to work together as we always have and remember that what matters are the people around us, not the infrastructure, then I know we will be ok.
It looks like we made it in, now lets make it work.
Ken Donaldson is Medical Director for NHS Dumfries and Galloway
P.S. Anne Allison, I hope you like the title!!