EDITH Cavell closed its doors to patients for the last time on Wednesday, 17 November. Deputy features editor John Baker went along to take a look at the empty hospital.
THE doors were locked for the final time at the Edith Cavell Hospital - officially transforming it from a centre for helping the ill to a construction site.
The ageing building is now weeks away from the bulldozer, its services removed and transported to the £289 million state-of-the-art Peterborough City Hospital nearby.
The last patient was seen on Wednesday morning, and hours later facilities general manager Gerry McIntyre and soft facilities manager Andrew Selby took security and fire and safety staff through the solemn rooms in preparation to make everywhere secure.
The Bretton building, which opened in 1988, will be demolished in the new year and turned into car parking and landscaping by September 2011.
It was Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s main centre for elective surgery and diagnostic work.
Services included a medicine for the elderly ward, general surgical ward, ears, nose and throat service, urology service, and orthopaedic ward.
But the corridors and treatment rooms, once busy with medical staff and patients at the 154-bed hospital, became cold and sombre as lights were dimmed for the last time.
Each room painted a different picture; from the children’s murals and toys in the corridor, to the dials and ophthalmic eyepieces in the day surgeries.
“Anything loose”, from orthopedic equipment to lighting and beds and desks must now be removed and sorted by medical equipment marketer Lundy Healthcare.
Some items will be sold, bringing money back to the trust, while other items will be donated to charities and third world countries or recycled.
A library of medical cards will move to the new hospital, or to an archive at Westwood Farm in Peterborough.
Closing off Edith Cavell evoked mixed feelings for Mr McIntyre, who said: “To some extent it’s a shame that a hospital that’s only 20-odd years old is being demolished.
“There are other hospitals that aren’t being demolished that are in a worse condition than this
“But the way to go forward is to move to a new site.
“It would have been difficult to attach the facilities that were needed onto this building, it’s much better to build a new one on a greenfield site.
“The benefit for the patients will be to bring everything together.”
Removing the hospital is the latest stage in the trust’s giant operation as part of the Greater Peterborough Health Investment Plan, and is regarded as one of the largest the city has ever seen.
On November 10 the trust began moving 3,500 staff and pieces of equipment into the new building from Edith Cavell, Peterborough Maternity Unit and Peterborough District Hospital, following a year of preparation.
And the month-long decommissioning will take more than just a slamming of the doors.
Each entrance must be locked and tagged, as security staff know potential burglars will be aware that the dormant building is still full of plenty of furniture.
Another difficult task will be to remove potentially dangerous chemicals from the site.
Mr McIntyre said: “The morgue needs to be degassed, as do the medical piping systems.
“The MRI machine is full of compressed gas and that needs to be removed completely, otherwise you can “blow” the magnet.
“The lifts will work until December 2, when they’ll be drained of oil.”
The official date of handover to demolition contractors is December 22, although no work will begin until after Christmas.
Mr Selby, who started working in Edith Cavell 10 years ago, said: “When you walk around the new one you don’t worry about this one going, because the hospital we’re going to is absolutely amazing.”
And Mr McIntyre added: “I’m not sad now, but the bulldozers haven’t arrived yet.”