BC’s major surgical services are getting a massive upgrade

By Carrie Stefanson

In about a year, Vancouver General Hospital’s Phil and Jennie Gaglardi Surgical Centre will expand for more surgeries to be performed with less wait times and cancellations. The expansion will add 16 new state-of-the-art, universal operating rooms and a 40 bed pre- and post-operative care unit.

Building universally-designed operating rooms allows for flexibility for a variety of surgeries – any case, any room. This means less waiting for rooms or moving patients around when emergency cases arise, which is 50 per cent of VGH’s surgical activity.


The project includes a new communication system to track patients, equipment and instruments across two operating floors, and upgraded infrastructure including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing. Staff at Vancouver General Hospital were instrumental in the design and construction of the new surgical suite.

Technology leading the way in the future of surgery

The expansion includes a new system to track patients via a wristband. Infrared readers in the ceiling follow patients as they move from admitting to the pre-operative area, the operating room and onto the post-operative/recovery area. Family members can track their loved one on a monitor in the waiting room. Information is anonymized so patient confidentiality is maintained.

The Perioperative Patient and Asset Tracking provides “at a glance” tracking for surgical patients and equipment, providing 1,300 staff, clinicians, and physicians with 24/7 real-time information via workstations, big screen monitors, and mobile devices. This constant source of up-to-date information helps care teams better coordinate their work and provide the best patient care possible.

The anesthetic gas lines.

Capturing anesthetic gas

The new surgical suite will also include technology to capture the anesthetic gases used to sedate patients during surgery.  A 2018 study in The Lancet by VGH surgeon Dr. Andrea MacNeill found anesthetic gases have a significant effect on the environment.

Other hospitals in British Columbia are looking at implementing similar technology as they build for the future.

Carrie Stefanson is Public Affairs Leader at Vancouver Coastal Health.