26 September 2023

Westmead takes build of ‘Biocontainment’ Centre

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Australia’s first purpose-built ‘biocontainment centre’ at Sydney’s Westmead Health Precinct has been unveiled.

According to Health Minister Ryan Park, the NSW Centre is highly specialised and was built to treat and safely isolate patients with rare highly infectious diseases.

Mr Park said the Centre would be used for high consequence infectious diseases which could be acute infectious diseases such as Ebola or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

“While other prevalent infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza are important, they are not included in the range of diseases managed at this unit,” Mr Park said.

He said the purpose-built biocontainment centre at Westmead clearly demonstrated how important it was for NSW to be capable of keeping people safe and providing the best care possible.

“The centre is equipped with six specialised quarantine class and negative pressure beds and helps us effectively respond to future pandemics and provide high level care to both adult and paediatric patients,” Mr Park said.

“The community can be assured that, with this facility, NSW is ready to act and keep the community safe,” he said.

“The state-of-the-art facility includes a critical lift to transport contagious patients directly from the Westmead Hospital helipad or an ambulance straight to the biocontainment centre.”

The Minister said the Centre would also use three steam steriliser autoclaves to process contaminated waste and had its own sewage treatment plant to treat contaminated patient waste.

Western Sydney Local Health District’s Acting Chief Executive, Rebecca Nogajski said the Centre would play many roles, operating as the Statewide referral and outreach facility for patients with suspected or confirmed HCID, as well as the education and training hub for preparedness and safe practice in managing these diseases.

“This centre is self-contained, able to provide high-level emergency care, as well as access to specialist therapies such as phage therapy,” Dr Nogajski said.

“The centre stocks rarely used antibiotics, antivirals, antitoxins, vaccines and other key therapeutics.

Chief Executive of Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Cathryn Cox said the centre’s specialist staff are highly trained in managing patients.

“We look forward to collaborating with all our colleagues across the Precinct, and NSW, to deliver a coordinated, specialised response through this centre of expertise, with a focus on containment and high-quality care of patients and their families,” Ms Cox said.

The centre is a shared facility of Westmead Hospital, part of Western Sydney Local Health District and Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network supporting the whole State in this specialised service.

More than $3 billion has been committed to upgrade and expand the precinct’s health services, education, research and innovation facilities over the coming years.

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