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New Respiratory Unit at Royal Victoria Hospital

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Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s (RVH) new Respiratory Unit recently welcomed its very first patient. Doreen Beamish, 80, from Barrie was the first person to be admitted to the new 32-bed unit where she was greeted by the enthusiastic and highly specialized respiratory team. The Respiratory Unit is a completely new department for RVH and is dedicated to the specialized care of patients suffering from respiratory illnesses such as asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In the course of a year it is anticipated that more than 1,400 patients will be admitted to the unit. “The opening of this new unit means patients can now be cared for by skilled professionals with a specific expertise in this area of respiratory illness using state-of-the-art equipment. Considerable planning has occurred to make this the best respiratory unit possible. This is a win-win for patients and for the staff providing care,” says Dr. Christopher Tebbutt, clinical director, Medicine Program.

This new unit’s multi-disciplinary team approach means a wide variety of health professionals will work together and will focus, not just on treatment for these patients, but also on prevention and education. “Respiratory ailments are often lifelong health challenges, so it’s important we teach patients how to live with their condition,” says Dana Naylor, director of RVH’s Medicine Program.

The opening of the new unit is just one of many spaces that will begin to receive patients as the safe, gradual transition into RVH’s Phase 1 Expansion continues. “With the opening of the Phase 1 Expansion, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre has doubled in size to almost one million square-feet,” notes Janice Skot, RVH president and CEO. “New departments will open at different times ensuring staff, physicians and volunteers are fully oriented to the new space and safely trained on the new equipment and processes. This careful, phased approach will optimize safety, while ensuring we are responsive to community needs.”

In addition to the new Respiratory Unit the Phase 1 Expansion includes expanded Emergency and Imaging departments, 101 inpatient beds (plus two shelled-in units with capacity of 64 inpatient beds for future expansion), two new operating rooms boosting the number to 10 in total, a seven-bed cardiac care unit and the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre. Just a few steps across the roadway, is a standalone building called Rotary Place which is home to Rotary House, the lodge for cancer patients and which connects to the cancer centre via an underground tunnel. The $450 million expansion also boasts $70 million in advanced equipment & technology.

Patient safety has always been RVH’s highest priority which is why this move has been planned so carefully.  Prior to the Respiratory Unit opening RVH’s Imaging department began registering patients and performing most of its procedures in the new space, with the exception of nuclear medicine, ultrasound and mammography which continue to function in the existing building.

“We have more space, better patient flow, and we’ve already had a couple of cases in which we’ve seen the benefit of the new technology,” says Dr. Scott Good, clinical director of Imaging.

The new Emergency Department and the new main entrance officially opened just after the Respiratory Unit. The Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre  which features three new radiation treatment suites, Canada’s first Robotic Intravenous Automation System (RIVA arm) for the safe preparation of chemotherapy treatments, 34 chemotherapy treatment spaces, two private chemotherapy spaces and an isolation room will become fully-operational in July. The expansion’s 101 new inpatient beds will open over the next few years, as operational funding becomes available.

While all of these changes are taking place at RVH, Doreen Beamish is snug in her patient room in the new Respiratory Unit and receiving the specialized care she needs to head down the path to recovery.

And what did Mrs. Beamish think of this new unit? “I think this is fabulous. It’s nice and bright and what a pretty room.”


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