Bigger emergency room in St. Mike’s renovations

Dennis Hanagan–

St. Michael’s hospital is doubling the size of its emergency department (ED) and will begin to focus more on patients and their families in the way it provides health care.
The hospital, founded in 1892, is undergoing major construction and renovations. Work now is underway on the Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower at Queen E. and Victoria St. where the new main entrance will be.

hospitalThe new lobby will be 3 storeys high with large glass windows, four elevators and an escalator to the first floor where there’ll be a pharmacy, gift shop, coffee shop and food vendors.

Its 1910 building at Shuter and Bond St. will be demolished to accommodate an enlarged—“desperately needed”—emergency department. St. Mike’s ED takes in 80,000 cases annually although it was originally designed for an annual caseload of just 40,000.

Cost for the Gilgan tower and the new ED is expected to be $301 million. The hospital will remain fully operational during construction.

“Our key focus is always patient care and … anything we do with construction we try to minimize that impact,” Tom Parker, senior project engineer, told the St. Lawrence Supper Club’s March meeting.

The hospital, Downtown’s only trauma-centre, has 475 in-patient beds down from the 750 it had 10 years ago. That reduction is due to the way surgery has improved, said Parker, with many surgeries being completed within one day.

The 17-storey Gilgan tower will have state-of-the-art operating rooms, intensive care and in-patient units. Each room will be for one patient only. Each will have a large window, space dedicated for family visits and pullout beds for visitors to stay the night.

Critical care units will be similarly designed with space for “one-to-one nurse care,” he said. Nurses will be stationed at the bedside or in a cubicle, with a computer, to one side.

“It gives them (patients) an environment in which they can heal and heal properly so that when they are discharged … they’re doing so in the healthiest, possible way,” said Parker.

New operating rooms will have advanced imaging technologies meaning a surgeon will be able to get a CT scan of another body part without the patient having to wake up from anesthesia and go to another room.

Mental health is on the hospital’s radar. “We’re building a true mental health department. We are surrounded by the inner city. One of our biggest challenges is patients who come in and present mental health disorders,” Parker said.

Acknowledging the hospital’s hallways can be a maze to navigate, Parker said new way-finding methods will let visitors and patients find their way around much easier.

“When you come to St. Mike’s it’s not just world class care but you also know where you’re going and you’re comforted when you walk through the doors,” said Parker.

Its trauma-centre will be tripled in size so that 3 cases can be seen at a time or 6 cases in emergencies. The current facility handles only one case at a time.

The entire project is to wind up in 2019. Parker said “nearly every square foot” of the existing hospital will be renovated.