Seeing the new St. Catharines Hospital was a humbling experience. I could see the pride and excitement in the faces of the staff and volunteers who are strategically placed at points throughout the building as they explained how each area is to function and how the servicing here will differ from what Niagara residents are receiving now.
I toured the hospital with a friend who is on the Joint Accessability Advisory Committee (JAAC) which advises roughly seven of Niagara’s Municipalities on ensuring that new facilities are accessible, or that older facilities are upgraded – all in accordance with the regulations of the AODA (Accessiblity for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) as they come in to effect. Clearly not something most of us think about on a day-to-day basis, and not the first thing we think about when we hear “new hospital”. But the fact is, many of the accessibility features incorporated in a new building (ramps, wider corridors, accessible showers) are often considered too expensive as a retro-fit of an old building – so they often don’t get done. Alone, this is a huge advantage of having the new building.
There are thirty spacious dialysis units and four private rooms for infection control and dedicated parking for dialysis patients. The chemotherapy area of the cancer centre can handle eighty patients whereas the old hospital could handle seventeen. There are three radiation therapy rooms (handling mostly skin, breast, lung and prostate cancer) and there is room allocated to build two more. These areas are going to be a great help to people who otherwise have had to travel to Hamilton for treatment.
We toured the entire hospital in about two hours. There is so much too see but I will run through some features from my notes:
- The hospital has a total of 285 beds with the ability to expand to 400. The site has an extra eight acres available for future expansion, and some of the areas of the hospital are equipped should the need arise to build upward.
- Emergency/Urgent Care has thirty-seven beds and two isolation rooms and expects 80,000 visits per year,
- There is a staff library and teaching rooms, and a 178 seat auditorium that will be used for those in the health care industry as well as to bring people from the community in to learn about health issues.
- The Mental Health facility is 8,100 sq feet, has fifty-five beds and is expandble to eighty-eight. There is a psychiatric intensive care unit with eight beds and this is new to Niagara. Patients are able to stay for up to three months. (It was pointed out to us that mental health recieved the least contributions in the fund-raising campaign even though it is a huge need.)
- Women and Babies has seventeen large labour and delivery rooms designed to accomodate deliveries where the mother and child are healthy and the parents will have the baby in the room with them, and family is welcome to visit. The rooms have a nice big chair that folds out to a sleeping cot for the second parent or friend.
- Childrens’ Health has twenty-two private rooms and a family apartment suite.
- Features like WIFI throughout the facility, pay-per-view, and phones attached to TVs that swing on an arm above each bed can be very important in the daily life of an in-patient.
- Imaging has two CT Scanners, one MRI and three rooms with State of the Art equipment for nuclear medicine and a dedicated Ontario breast screening and diagnostic mammography area.
- The facility is designed so that every patient room has a window. None of the offices have windows.
- Eighty percent of the rooms are private.
- The ten operating rooms (expandable to twelve) as well as the acute care rooms (in emerg) have wall material that is antimicrobial (corian). Two of the acute care rooms have negative pressure to contain infection within the room. The building is segregated vertically and horizontally so that each section can be sealed off from the rest. If there is an infection concern, the rest of the hospital can continue to function safely.
The focus in the design of this building was on the patient experience – as it should be.
The hospital is scheduled to open March 24th, 2013.
There are public tours running Saturday January 12th and 26th http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news/article/1562167–public-tours-offered-at-new-hospital and if you have the time – I recommend that you see it. You can’t miss it if you drive East on Fourth Avenue – it will be on the right-hand side before the Vansickle Road shopping area.
You don’t have to stay for two hours as we did… You can easily have a much quicker run-through.