MUHC Super Hospital ready for the big move

By P.A.Sévigny

Twelve years after The Suburban first wrote about the small community meeting during which the MUHC’s Dr. Nicholas Steinmetz discussed the need for a new and modern hospital in order to accommodate the medicine of a new century, Montreal’s new super hospital is only days away from the moment when it will be ready to receive its first patients. During an exclusive media tour, communications manager Julie Paquet and Elizabeth McPhedran, her assistant, told The Suburban that many of the hospital’s innovations—such as a pneumatic messenger system—were the result of a broad interview process during which working hospital professionals throughout the MUHC told hospital planners about what they could do to improve the hospital’s efficiency and improve patient care.

Compared to the usual claustrophobic and over-bearing use of space that used to define the city’s older hospitals over much of the past century, the new hospital’s extensive and multi-storied use of natural light in all of its various facilities does a lot to define both its mission as a modern medical facility as well as being one of the leading medical research centers on the planet. Located amid the western reaches of the city’s old Glen Yards, the entire hospital is broken up into color-coded sections that define both their form and function. While color co-ordinated walls provide a welcome break from the usual mustard gas yellows, faded ecrus and pond-scum green that usually defined Québec’s hospital corridors for decades, the new hospital uses subtle color codes to define its various working sectors for both its staff, its visitors and its patients. Turquoise defines the new children’s’ section while other colors indicate that one is in the hospital’s research center, the Cedar’s Cancer Center or in the old Victoria Hospital’s sector.

Located on the ground floor within easy access to a specially designed ambulance entry ramp, the hospital’s emergency department can be expanded or retracted at will depending on its volume of patient activity. With 14 examination rooms, two triage rooms, 4 resuscitation rooms, 33 stretcher rooms and a designated medical imaging center located around a central hub, planners expect that the new emergency room’s efficient work environment will offer a qualified amount of privacy for patients while offering a greater amount of patient visibility for emergency room staff. While a dedicated set of elevators can quickly move patients to other parts of the hospital, Paquet also pointed out how the department can also be quickly closed off into specific ‘clean’ and ‘contaminated’ zones in the case of some new pandemic.

When compared to earlier times when a hospital’s ‘housekeeping’ services usually meant little more than sweeping up the floors, mopping out the corridors and making sure the bathrooms were kept clean, the new hospital insists upon keeping a clean house that could mean the difference between life and death for some, if not several of its future patients. Aside from its emphasis upon minimally invasive surgery, the media tour also underlined how all of the hospital’s 14 state-of-the-art operating rooms included modern Tele-Health (real-time medical imaging technology) equipment that were all suspended from reinforced ceiling frames in order to make it easier to quickly clean the rooms and reduce the chance for any kind of opportunistic infection. Other facilities include a fully-equipped clinical research laboratory that will carry out on-site clinical research in (or near) all of the hospital’s operating theatres as opposed to the fundamental and basic research that’s being carried out in laboratories in universities and hospitals all over the world. As most of the hospital’s operating rooms are located within the hospital’s central building block, they will be near the intensive-care sector as well as easily accessible to the building’s ground-floor medical imaging center. The operating room sector will also include nearby waiting rooms that mean families and friends are never far away from the patient. While it’s not the corner office, the hospital’s housekeeping services also occupy well-equipped offices near the hospital’s operating rooms—a design innovation that once again underlines the importance of good hygiene, clean rooms and a minimal chance for any kind of post-operation infection.

When compared to the bad old days when up to four patients shared a single room, the new hospital will include 344 private adult patient rooms located around a central hub that will improve patient access and visibility for the ward’sworkingprofessionals. Everyunitwill have its own natural light (depending on the time of day) as well as its own spectacular view of the city. Other features will include a flat-screen television for both the patient’s education and entertainment as well as well-appointed reclining couches for visiting friends and family. Other notable features include a fully equipped adventure playground for the children’s hospital section as well as a well-appointed and secluded ‘healing garden’ for cancer patients who can appreciate what a little bit of sunshine can do for what could otherwise be a very bad day in the hospital’s oncology clinic.
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