Memories of Royal Papworth

So last Saturday I went to the current site of Royal Papworth Hospital to get photos, and found many places that bring back memories. It is an amazing site that will be missed by many, but the move to the new site is needed for the hospital to continue to grow. The main entrance above is on the back of the two historic buildings used to treat the original transplant patients. This block was originally used for male patients.

This is the back of the other historic building. Each of the doors and windows were to allow the TB patients to be moved outside on to the balconies in their beds every day. This was to make sure they got plenty of fresh air whatever the temperature. Nowadays it is used for offices for the consultants.

The block was originally called Duchess after it was opened by the Duchess of York, who would later become known as Queen Elizabeth, wife of George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II.

Much harder to get a good photograph is the building for the male patients, originally called Baron after Bernhard Baron who was one of the early benefactors. This block has been extended and modified many times. It may have a stone commemorating its opening, but as the building is used for patients I did not want to intrude on their privacy by going closer. The modern extension in the middle of the photo is Duchess ward, the original balconies to the right of this are Baron ward (which can easily be mistaken as a corridor by visitors) and out of shot is Princess ward. The building also houses the cystic fibrosis unit, respiratory physiotherapy, thoracic outpatients and thoracic oncology.

This bust of Bernhard Baron meets you in the main reception. Bernhard donated money to fund the building of the Baron and Duchess buildings. Ironically Bernhard made his money as a cigarette manufacturer. In my original plan for my sponsored walk I asked if I could push him from the old to the new hospital. Luckily my request was turned down, he probably weighs at least twice as much as me.

The Papworth pond holds memories for patients and families. I pushed my wife round here in a wheelchair many times.

Papworth Hall, used as the original hospital on the site until the opening of the Princess and Baron buildings. Now used as an administration block. While my wife was recovering from her transplant I used to walk up here daily as it was the only place I could get a reliable phone signal to update my family.

Easily missed, just up hill from the pond is the entrance to what I call the secret garden.

This is the view from inside the secret garden looking back. It is a circular space, completely enclosed by trees apart from the narrow entrance path. It has benches to sit and contemplate in the quiet, hidden from the hustle and bustle around. I assume there were more flower beds at one time, the one the other side of the silver birch is heart shaped although I have never seen it in bloom. Even without flower beds it is kept tidy and it was a nice place to visit either on my own or with my wife.

The red brick building is really important yet doesn’t stand out if you are not aware of it; I have directed several families to it in the evenings. It is called the Christopher Parish building and just upstairs from the ambulance is the critical care ward. For many patient families this is the first place they want to find, so they can see their loved one recovering after their transplant operation. When we were first here we assumed everyone would be happy as the patients recover, we soon discovered for some families it also has patients nearing the end of their journey. It also houses Hemingford, Hugh Fleming, Higginson and Mallard wards.

Almost at the end of the hospital is another important place. The door to the right of the pillar leads to the entrance to Transplant Outpatients, also known as TCCU or just Transplant. To find it you make your way past the older buildings and then nearly to the top of the hill. I am sure there is a sign somewhere, but I couldn’t find it this time. This is where patients come for their initial assessments and regular check ups. When patients visit TCCU, either pre or post transplant, it provides an opportunity to talk to other patients and their families who have gone through or are waiting to go through similar transplant experiences. Here you find you are not alone. All the staff here are part of the Papworth family and do everything they can to support the patients.

Finally I cannot end without mentioning the charity office. When we first came here, they lived in a cold portakabin by the main car park. At some point during the many weeks I spent here while my wife was cared for, I wandered in for a chat and from there my fundraising began. Since then they moved to a slightly better portakabin and now they live inside the CTBI building, which is the ugly concrete block next to the main car park. I recommend dropping in to see them. They are friendly and can provide lots of help if you want to start fundraising.

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