The public had a chance to check out the new Stanton Territorial Hospital on April 27.
The four-year $350 million project features the latest technology and, at 27,500 square metres, the new facility is more than twice the size of the old hospital.
Kim Riles, chief operating officer at Stanton, and Gloria Badari, executive director of the Stanton Renewal Project, led Yellowknifers on a tour of the new facility. Close to 200 people showed up for the occasion.
New technology and equipment
Throughout the tour, many new technological upgrades were revealed.
Pneumatic tubes, which use compressed air to internally transport items within the walls of the hospital, have been built. They will be used to send prescriptions, blood samples or lab work to different areas of the building.
"They're well encased so nothing breaks or leaks and the system is self cleaning," said Badari.
"The idea is to reduce sneaker time for nurses and get things where they need to go faster," said Riles.
In-patient rooms are also bigger and include updated equipment.
"The hospital has a total of 100 single in-patient rooms, no sharing," said Riles. "The head wall will have the patient TV, which actually is much more than that. It will be electronically integrated to have the patient's chart."
In-patient rooms will also feature lift systems to aid mobility.
All in-patient rooms will feature airborne isolation except obstetrics. There will also be airborne capacity in intensive care, dialysis and medical day care units.
Surgical rooms will feature a new boom system that suspends medical equipment that will open up working space for doctors, an important upgrade in the hospital.
Riles said the surgical rooms have been "future-proofed" as much as possible, which means they can be upgraded if needed.
“We don't have that capacity now, but with a 30 year plan in place, we have to be ready for future expansion,” said Riles.
Improvements for well being
In the psychiatry unit, many safety features will be introduced such as shatter proof windows and anti-ligature furniture. There will also be monitoring cameras in patient rooms.
“That is only absorbed by nurses at their stations,” said Badari. “It will not tape activity to respect their privacy, but nurses can watch to ensure the safety of patients.”
Psychiatry will also feature group therapy rooms and a closed off and safe outdoor patio.
“We've tried to incorporate as much secondary light as possible," said Badari. "Having a lot of natural light and an outdoor space improves the healing process and mental well-being of patients."
On the ground floor, there will be a multi-faith spiritual centre with a large window view of the outside courtyard and a special ventilation system to accommodate smudging.
"The air handling system created some design challenges for our architects in order for us to incorporate smudging," said Badari. "They worked very long and very hard to accommodate our needs and the fire code."
Capacity has increased from four to six spots in dialysis and three to five spots in chemo therapy.
The new facility will have about 20 extra beds and 11 extra psychiatric beds.
“We've increased capacity in pockets that have really been struggling previously," said Badari.
The grounds will also have significantly more parking at 375 stalls, which will be free for patients and visitors
Though the building features vast improvements in technology to floor space, the medical services offered at the new building will essentially not change.
"We'll be transferring like-for-like services,” said Riles. “We'll be doing our best to provide the level of service we've been providing so far, but there will be no program enhancement.”
'Ahead of the curve'
Gail Elder, who worked at the old Stanton building as a voice recognition administrator for several years and in the medical transcription field for 40 years, retired the Friday before the tour.
She said the building feels very inviting.
"(Hospitals) can be a stressful place for families and patients to come, but it's all very inviting, the way this building is arranged for services," said Elder. "The existing hospital staff would be proud to work here. It's a beautiful building. This is ahead of the curve."
Moving towards opening
Over the next few weeks Badari said staff will continue to receive training on the new systems, terminal cleans will be taking place and supplies will continue to be moved in.
Elective surgeries and patient intake will gradually be decreased at the "legacy" Stanton building as staff prepare for the opening of emergency services at 6 a.m. on May 26, when the first patients arrive.
The legacy building will become a 72-bed long-term care facility.