The decision was made to build a new children’s hospital in Meilahti, Helsinki, to replace the outdated facilities of the Children’s Hospital and Children’s Castle. The New Children’s Hospital treats severely ill children from all over Finland.
The Children’s Hospital – Finland’s first children’s hospital
Finland’s first children’s hospital, which was later named the Children’s Hospital, was established in 1893. The hospital was initially established to facilitate the university teaching of paediatric medicine and included an inpatient ward, an outpatient clinic, an X-ray unit and a laboratory. The Children’s Hospital has operated in various facilities over the course of its long history. In 1946, the children’s hospital moved to its current facilities in the Children’s Hospital building in Meilahti. As medicine, the central hospital network and outpatient health care continued to advance, the Children’s Hospital eventually specialised in the treatment of challenging and rare diseases.
The Children’s Hospital included paediatric and paediatric surgery wards, a surgery and anaesthesia unit, intensive care units, outpatient clinics and related support functions.
Children’s Castle – from a shelter to paediatric neurology and psychiatry
The operations of Children’s Castle began in 1917 when Sophie Mannerheim and her friends established the Äidinhoitoa lapselle (‘Mother’s care for children’) foundation and rented out facilities for its operations. At first, Children’s Castle served as a shelter for single mothers, but its operations expanded significantly in the 1920s. When Arvo Ylppö joined the foundation, Children’s Castle began to be developed into a children’s hospital and a training facility for paediatric health care professionals. Under Ylppö’s direction, Children’s Castle established the first maternity and child health clinic in Finland and started training paediatric nurses. Thanks largely to these efforts, Finland soared from the level of the a developing country to one of the top countries in the world when it comes to children’s health.
As its operations continued to expand, Children’s Castle was transferred to be operated by the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. In 1948, Children’s Castle moved to a new building in Taka-Töölö, which is where it continues to operate to this day. In 1997, Children’s Castle became part of Helsinki University Central Hospital. Over the years, the operations of Children’s Castle began to increasingly focus on paediatric neurology and paediatric and adolescent psychiatry.
Nowadays there are only a few paediatric neurology and paediatric psychiatry wards and consulting rooms left at Children’s Castle, as its operations have been winding down since the completion of the New Children’s Hospital.
Top-class treatment cannot be provided in historical facilities – the decision was made to build an entirely new hospital
The Children’s Hospital and Children’s Castle have a long and illustrious history. Nowadays they provide some of the best treatment and care in the world. However, the condition of their facilities no longer met the demands of modern treatment, due to which the hospitals were subject to constant renovations, indoor air problems and evacuations in recent years. The facilities were cramped, there were too few toilets, and parents could not stay with the young patients overnight. The need for a new children’s hospital was urgent, which is why action had to be taken immediately. Source: Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa
What if we worked together to build something truly valuable?
The old hospital building was causing tangible problems for the young patients and the staff of the Children’s Hospital and to the parents of children. A survey completed in December 2011 by HUS concluded that the need for a new hospital was urgent. The facilities of Helsinki’s Children’s Castle, originally built in the 1940s, were simply inadequate for meeting modern needs. The idea ‘what if we worked together to build something truly valuable?’ was born.
Private funding can speed up the completion of the hospital – aiming for EUR 30 million
In February 2013, the Support Association for the New Children’s Hospital 2017 launched a fundraising campaign for the construction of a new national children’s hospital.
Chair Anne Berner, Director of Department and Chief Physician Jari Petäjä and Lawyer Tuomas Aho. (photo by Matti Hannula)
Establishment of the support association
This EUR 30 million public fundraising target was reached in August 2014, but the work and collection continued, as many individuals, companies and communities wanted to donate funds for the construction of a new children’s hospital even after the fund-raising campaign. By the expiration date of the collection permit on 31 July 2015, the donations totalled approximately EUR 36.5 million. Every euro past the EUR 30 million collection target reduces the project’s need for external capital, meaning loans.
The need for a new children’s hospital was urgent, but without private funding its construction would have been delayed far into the future. This is why it was decided that part of funding for the public hospital would be collected from companies and private individuals, which was a first for such a project in Finland.
With the help of these donations, Helsinki gained a new expert unit focused on specialist health care for children. The construction of the hospital began in August 2014.
The Support Association for the New Children’s Hospital 2017 was established in 2012. Its tasks were:
- To raise awareness. The support association raised awareness of the need for a new children’s hospital and its role as an expert unit specialising in child health care and serving all of Finland.
- To use funds for the new hospital. The support association allocated its accumulated funds via a foundation established for this purpose to funding the planning and construction of a new children’s hospital.
- Active fundraising. To support its operations, the association launched a fundraising campaign aimed at citizens, companies and other communities.
Composition of the Board of the Support Association for the New Children’s Hospital 2017
Anne Berner served as the chair of the association for the entire duration of the project.
The other members of the board were Tuomas Aho, Jukka Ala-Mello, Anne Knaster, Jukka Kurttila, Tarja Lähdemäki, Markku Mäkijärvi, Lilli Paasikivi, Jari Petäjä, Ari Puheloinen, Kari Raivio, Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Nina Santala and Lasse Viren, with Jukka-Pekka Saraste serving part of the time.
In accordance with its rules, the association operated in close cooperation with HUS. The board included the Children’s Hospital’s Medical Director Jari Petäjä and HUS’s Chief Medical Officer Markku Mäkijärvi. The support association was disbanded in 2018 when the hospital was completed.