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St. Michael’s opens first phase of new Emergency Department

Toronto, May 31, 2017

By Kate Manicom

a hallway in the new ED
Photos from the new ED.
an examinatino room in the new ED

St. Michael’s Hospital has opened the first phase of its new Emergency Department. The state-of-the-art acute area, purpose-built to care for patients with urgent injuries or illnesses, is the initial phase of a multi-year revitalization and expansion of the hospital’s ED that will eventually double its size.

“The current department was built to accommodate about 45,000 patients a year, but now we see more than 75,000 a year,” said Dr. Glen Bandiera, chief of Emergency Medicine. “As a downtown trauma centre, we care for a remarkably diverse patient population that continues to grow. Our Emergency Department needs to be able to serve that population’s needs.”

An essential part of enhancing patient care in the ED is increasing its space: the new acute area is twice the size of the previous location. All exam rooms are single patient, enclosed with walls instead of in a bay divided by curtains, with enough space for a patient’s loved ones to stay with them. This design feature maximizes confidentiality and privacy while minimizing interruptions and noise. Hallways are wider and medical supplies are stored out of the way in dedicated closets to keep corridors clear.

The new area also incorporates best practices in health-care design. One example is the use of switchable glass to enclose exam rooms. With the flip of a button, the glass doors transition from transparent to opaque, allowing clinical staff to monitor patients or offer privacy as needed. While traditional fabric curtains can harbour pathogens, glass is much easier and faster to clean.

Many of the rooms also have access to natural light and all have new equipment and furniture.

The multi-year project to renovate and double the size of the ED will make it a world-class facility that will be known as the Slaight Family Emergency Department. The Slaight Family donated $10 million toward the department’s revitalization.

In its final state, the new ED will include more patient treatment areas, diagnostic imaging inside the department (including a CT scanner and X-ray facilities) and a larger rapid assessment zone – a special section for efficient diagnosis and treatment of patients with less severe illness or injury. It will also include a fully renovated and enhanced trauma room.

One of the most notable changes will be the new mental health area – the next space to be renovated as part of the project.

“The quiet and secure Mental Health Emergency Service Area will be physically separated from the rest of the ED,” said Dr. Bandiera. “It will be staffed 24-7 by dedicated, specially trained crisis workers and health care providers.”

These renovations will allow the hospital to not just accommodate its growing volume of patients, reduce wait times and continue to fulfill its mandate as a regional trauma centre, but provide faster, more efficient care in a better-designed and more comfortable environment, adapting for changes in technology since the department was last renovated in 2000.

The ED expansion is part of a larger project to transform St. Michael’s physical plant, which includes construction of a 17-storey patient care tower and renovations to much of the rest of the hospital. Completion of the project is expected by 2019.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.