Patient needs drive construction of new acute care centre in Vancouver

If you were building a new hospital, how would it look?  Beyond the physical structure, are there more efficient or patient-friendly ways to move patients, families, staff, physicians, suppliers and services through the hospital?  What changes could be made at the department level to deliver even better patient care?

These are the tough questions the teams BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, needed answered to support the construction of a new Acute Care Centre (ACC) and the redevelopment of existing services.

The solution—a first in Canada—a process called Integrated Facility Design (IFD). Over the course of one week a month for six months, from January to July, 2012, hundreds of clinicians, physicians, patients and families traded their usual attire and regular routines for a 140,000 square foot warehouse, work gloves, and the opportunity to shape the delivery of care in the new ACC.

Eight foot high cardboard walls brought two dimensional drawings to life and helped teams understand their physical space. Guests walked through full size mock-ups of each floor of the new ACC to review, test and improve how patients, providers, suppliers and services flow through their areas.

“Incorporating our first-hand experience in the design will ensure that the new hospital’s design works in the real world and not just on paper,” says Dr. Eleanor Reimer, Pediatric Anesthesiologist at BC Children’s Hospital. She adds: “The IFD process gave providers and family representatives the opportunity to test floor plans and flows and to make changes to the design based on their own experience working and staying in clinical settings.   Susan Greig, BC Children’s Hospital Partners in Care Family Liaison could not agree more. She felt: “The IFD process meant providers were collaborating with patients and families right from the get go, to learn what would work best, instead of making decisions first, then asking for our input.”

During IFD event weeks, the hours were long, the work was physical and the pace was intense. However, patient needs drove decisions, and teams worked hard to break down barriers and to find the best way to provide even better care to patients and families.

All of the hard work paid off.  Recently, BC Children’s and BC Women’s, both agencies of the Provincial Health Services Authority, were honoured with a 2013 Excellence in Health Care Award for the innovative IFD process from the Health Employer’s Association of BC (HEABC).

As a result of the IFD process, the ACC’s new design will be even more patient and family focused; it will incorporate access to nature and have single patient rooms with enough space for families to stay with their child during treatment.  These improvements are expected to shorten the length of stay in hospital, reduce post-discharge complications, and enable care providers to spend even more time focussed on direct patient care.

When complete, in 2018, the new ACC will include Inpatient Units, an Emergency Department, Medical Imaging and Procedural Suites, Hematology/Oncology and Pediatric Intensive Care for BC Children’s Hospital.  It will also include a High Risk Labour and Delivery Suite and a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre.

The new $682-million Redevelopment Project which includes construction of a new ACC, a public-private partnership, will be built to LEED Gold standards, ensuring that the building provides a healthy and ecologically sustainable environment for patients, visitors and staff.

For more information about the BC Children’s and BC Women’s Hospital Redevelopment Project visit

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