Planning makes perfect in stairwell demolition project

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Planning makes perfect in stairwell demolition project

Toronto, September 18, 2017

By Kate Manicom

A view from the hospital’s 11th floor to the location of the former Cardinal Carter South staircase
A view from the hospital’s 11th floor, the blue strip indicating where the Cardinal Carter South stairwell previously stood. (Photo by Katie Cooper)

More than one year ago, planning started for the demolition of the Cardinal Carter South stairwell. The 17-storey structure stood in the way of linking the new Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower to the existing hospital.

After seven months of demolition that dismantled 410 stairs and 2,317 cubic metres of concrete, the project is complete.

“The stairwell had to come down so that we could finish building something great,” said Michael Keen, senior director of Planning and Redevelopment. “We knew the work would be noisy and could potentially generate vibrations. We planned the project with safety and patient care as our top priorities, and as a result of collaboration within the hospital and with our external construction partners, we succeeded in completing the project safely, with minimal impacts to patients and their loved ones.”

In June 2016, the hospital’s Department of Operational Readiness initiated planning with teams across the hospital. Operational Readiness’s role is to ensure that each patient has the right care, in the right space with the right equipment and technology, at the right time, regardless of construction activities in the hospital.

Because the stairwell was built adjacent to critical patient care areas, including the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit, the perioperative floor and medical imaging, mitigation plans were established in case noise levels or vibrations were unsafe or affected patient care. Vibration monitors were placed throughout the hospital, and protocols were developed to monitor equipment, infection prevention and control, and patient and staff safety. The hospital also acquired ear plugs and ear muffs for patients in areas close to the demolition.

The Planning and Redevelopment team worked closely with the project’s contractor to find alternate demolition methods. To reduce noise and vibrations, the contractor saw-cut the staircase from the existing structure, crushed the slabs into smaller pieces, then removed them from the site using a tower crane.

“As a result of collaboration within the hospital and with our external construction partners, we succeeded in completing the project safely, with minimal impacts to patients and their loved ones.”
– Michael Keen, senior director, Planning and Redevelopment

Once demolition started in early 2017, an operations centre was established that met twice daily to monitor progress and resolve issues quickly. Program directors and the director of hospital operations submitted daily reports to inform the operations centre of any construction issues, noise or vibrations. Over the course of demolition, the operations centre committee held 198 meetings.

The hospital’s complex clinical environment also required the contractor to work flexible hours.

“While demolition was adjacent to the hospital’s operating rooms, there were some challenges in managing busy periods in the operating rooms and demolition schedules,” said Catherine Hogan, program director for Perioperative Services. “The contractor worked with us to change their schedules and enable safe patient care.”

With the stairwell demolition complete, the hospital is looking to its next demolition project: the Shuter Wing will come down in 2018 as part of the expansion of the new Slaight Family Emergency Department.

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, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, 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.

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