After almost three years of waiting, the public will be welcomed into the newly completed St. Mary’s Hospital building when it opens next week.
Spacious single occupancy rooms, open sunlit hallways, an expanded emergency department, new work stations for doctors and a plethora of state of the art medical equipment are just some of the highlights residents will find when they tour the new $44.15 million facility.
“We are thrilled to see the opening of the new building and the contribution our fundraising efforts have made to medical innovation at the hospital,” said Maureen Clayton, St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation chair. “This new building is what our community has needed. The single patient rooms and specialized equipment that our donors have helped fund will increase the quality of care for Sunshine Coast residents and help meet the growing needs of our community.”
The foundation and the St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary fundraised $2 million to equip the new hospital with things like high tech infant resuscitation machines, specialized beds and portable ultrasound and digital imaging equipment.
“Through the tremendous efforts of so many we are opening a new building that will enable VCH [Vancouver Coastal Health] staff and the physicians to provide the highest quality patient care to Sunshine Coast residents,” said Wendy Hansson, chief operating officer of VCH Coastal.
The public is invited to tour the facility at an open house on March 20. Gerry Latham, director of acute services at St. Mary’s Hospital, took Coast Reporter through the building on March 11 to have a sneak peek at the improvements.
The newly constructed three-storey tower is divided by levels of service, with the first floor housing ambulatory care patients and the emergency room. The second floor is reserved for acute patients and those in critical care, and the third floor is for sub-acute or less critical patients.
It’s the third floor that boasts three spacious birthing rooms complete with large bath tubs and bassinet areas for newborn babies to stay close.
The third floor also houses the bariatric room. “The bariatric room is for the larger patient. It’s a bigger room with a lift that can take up to 600 pounds,” Latham said. “Bariatric rooms are now a standard in building.”
Taking into account the varying size and height of patients, the new building is furnished with different widths and heights of chairs as well.
Each room in the new building is single occupancy, complete with a full bathroom, television and a fold out cot for family members who wish to spend the night.
The rooms also have what’s called a “nurse server,” which is a fully stocked cabinet of medical supplies specific to each patient that’s accessible inside the room or from the hallway.
“This will save time. Nurses used to have to make many, many trips back and forth, but now everything you need to look after a patient in this room is right here,” Latham said, noting everything was stored at one large nurses’ station in the old model.
The new hospital wing has smaller nurses’ stations on each floor. Each floor also has doctor work stations complete with computers, fax machines, labelers and scanners.
“We’ve been looking at the flow of work and finding ways that we can become more efficient in flow, finding places where we can take out some steps,” Latham said.
In an effort to have better infection control, the new building has isolation rooms with special areas to scrub up and put on protective clothing before entering.
The critical care rooms are private and well equipped in the new building, complete with special decompression mattresses to prevent bed-ridden patients from developing bedsores. The special beds also tip in many directions for comfort and adaptability.
The emergency department has been expanded to care for 12 people instead of eight with room for more beds if needed. Emergency also now has two entrances, one for patients being brought in by ambulance and one for walk-ins. The walk-in entrance is on the front of the new building with the ambulance entrance on the back.
The emergency department has also been fitted with two “fast track” chairs. In the specially-designed chairs, staff can perform blood tests, hook up IVs or administer other on-the-spot care.
“These chairs are for folks who aren’t feeling well and need care but it’s not an emergency. We score all our patients and those who are less acute will be seated in these chairs, and then they should be seen quicker,” Latham said.
The public can view all these changes and more at the open house being held at the hospital on March 20 from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
There the public can tour the new building, meet hospital staff and learn more about the renovations.
Doctors, nurses and staff at St. Mary’s are excited about getting to work in the new building. Patients will be moved there on March 25.
Once that has happened, renovations on the old building will start in August to finish off the hospital upgrade.
The original building will remain in use and is still the site of many services.
“The main building will still house the lab, pharmacy, operating rooms, our day surgery room, our recovery room, the cafeteria, ambulatory care, our mental health unit and, of course, our gift shop is here until August, but it will move to the tower with the new lobby. We’ve also got our food services here, we’ve got our mechanical facilities here, our laundry and our stores,” Latham said.
Renovations to the old building are expected to be complete by May 2014 and the cost is included in the $44.15 million project price tag.
Construction on the new building at St. Mary’s started in April of 2010.
Originally the build was supposed to be finished by October 2012, but technical difficulties added time.
“There were a number of issues that were run into throughout the construction schedule. Some of them were technical, and basically that’s what held us up,” Latham said.
The new building adds 5,440 square metres to the hospital, making the total footprint now 13,640 square metres.
The additional space comes with some new beds.
“We’re opening five more beds and then we have four on top of that, which we’ll use for overflow beds so that’s another nine. When you look at our emergency, you’ll see that we’ve added capacity for another four there, and the space is so large that we could, if we needed, do more,” Latham said.
St. Mary’s has also added some new staff.
The acute care and ICU unit is getting one new registered nurse “24/7, 365 days a year,” Latham said, and the sub-acute care unit will receive an addition licensed practical nurse on nights.
A new position will also be created for someone to help transfer patients in the expanded space and Latham said the hospital has increased their unit clerk capacity, clerical support and housekeeping staff.