Joseph Brant

Rooms in Burlington hospital's new patient tower to be bigger, brighter and cleaner

Mar 05, 2016
Burlington Post
By: Tim Whitnell 

If Joseph Brant Hospital (JBH) had an unofficial motto for its new patient tower under construction, it might be an Olympic-like phrase such as Bigger, Brighter, Cleaner.

Those descriptives were the main talking points by Jo Brant officials and representatives of the architectural team undertaking the ongoing design-build of the hospital’s redevelopment as they gave the media and some local politicians a glimpse of mocked-up patient rooms.

A guided tour of five distinct room types to be incorporated into the seven-storey patient care tower was given today at an offsite location in Burlington.

A facility on Harrington Court currently houses prototypes of five patient rooms that will populate the new tower: a patient room; an emergency department exam room; a trauma resuscitation room; an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) room; and an operating room.

“What I love about them (rooms) is they are spacious, they provide privacy and they are easier to clean." — Cheryl Williams, Joseph Brant Hospital vice-president of patient care services and chief nursing executive, about the new rooms coming to the patient tower currently under construction
The patient tower is a prime component of Jo Brant’s $500- million-plus, multi-phase redevelopment. It will include a new emergency department, nine new operating rooms, an expanded cancer clinic and ICU, a renovated special care nursery and expanded medical, surgical, diagnostic and outpatient services.

The patient tower, scheduled to open in late 2017, is partially constructed.

Cheryl Williams, JBH’s vice-president of patient care services and chief nursing executive, knew what the new patient rooms would consist of but got her first in-person look at a rendering of them during today’s tour.

She could barely contain her enthusiasm.

“This is so long overdue for Burlington.

“What I love about them (rooms) is they are spacious, they provide privacy and they are easier to clean,” said Williams, who has been with Jo Brant for just 10 months, but been involved in nursing around the GTA since 1995.

“The design teams have paid tremendous attention to detail to nursing flow,” in terms of ease of access to rooms, between rooms and patient observational vantage points from just outside them.

Whereas nursing stations are centralized in the current hospital, requiring nurses to walk a distance to get to each patient room, the new ICU and patient rooms have a glass area where a solid wall corner would be normally, enabling nurses to see into the room easily, just a few steps away from an individual mobile monitoring station.

Jo Brant has approximately 500 nurses.

Williams is also happy that the 172 in-patient beds in the new tower — almost all to be in single-occupancy rooms — will afford a relaxing view via large windows.

“The other beautiful thing is that 70 per cent (of in-patients) will have a lake view and the other 25 per cent of the escarpment.”

Patient rooms also have a large chair that can recline to allow a loved one to stay in the room overnight.

The rooms also come with handrails on the outside of the washroom so the patient can keep their balance. A nightlight below the handrail is also new.

The design of patient rooms has been altered with the exterior wall and door angled toward the adjacent room so that a nurse with an individual monitoring station just outside both rooms can see in each room at the same time, if necessary.

Williams said she is most impressed with a couple of aspects of the tower.

“Two things stand out — the (privacy) walls in the emergency room and the operating rooms having everything off the floor.”

The 44 ER exam rooms is only a few more than the number in the current ER in the old building, but there the similarities end.

The less than private moveable drapes that currently separate ER exam rooms will be gone in the new tower. The new ER rooms will have solid walls, providing a sight and sound barrier.

Mobile lighting above ER beds is also new.

The rooms also will be more spacious, 120 square feet, about 50 per cent larger than the ER exam rooms at most hospitals.

When the new ER opens in the tower, the old ER will become an ambulatory care area.

The nine new operating rooms will be about twice the size of the seven current 300-sq. ft. ORs.

The new ORs will be unique in that much of the equipment will be elevated.

“We’ve tried to get things off the floor,” said Henri Dekker of Jo Brant, a director of redevelopment and facilities.

“From a health and safety perspective, there will be no cords or plugs so no tripping hazards.”

Equipment like monitors will not be affixed to a wall but will be movable via articulated booms.

There is more powerful LED lighting above the surgical beds and a new wrinkle is a small camera/video unit mounted at the end of the light’s handle.

The surgery could be recorded, with the patient’s permission, and used as a teaching tool, perhaps with the new doctors at the nearby and new McMaster Family Health Centre, offered Dekker.

There will be 28 Intensive Care Unit rooms in the new patient tower, all private; the current hospital’s ICU has 16 rooms, two of them semi-private.

The new ICU rooms will be bigger, have their own bathroom, filtered air and sliding glass doors that can be made tinted or clear by adjusting a switch.

There is a small lounge chair in the room for visitors and beyond a large glass window family can see their loved one in a viewing area that also boasts a pullout sofa that can sleep one or two.

“It’s a better healing environment,” said Diane Hart, JBH’s redevelopment project co-ordinator.

There will be three trauma rooms in the new tower; two of them will be linked by an internal opening while one room will be separate for isolation cases.

Almost all patient rooms in the tower will have seamless vinyl floors and walls for ease of cleaning and hygiene.

The sinks have deep basins to catch dripping soap from dispensers and to minimize the spilling of dirty water.

Jo Brant President and CEO Eric Vandewall said the hospital has received many of its design ideas from The Pebble Project. It is the Centre for Health Design’s main research initiative enabling collaboration between North American healthcare providers on best practices.

The ideas gleaned are then fine tuned by Jo Brant’s hospital staff and the project’s architects.

John Christie is the lead architect on the JBH redevelopment. A director of Parkin Architects Limited, his Toronto firm has designed, among many hospitals, the new one in Oakville as well as in Georgetown and William Osler in Brampton.

He has been working onsite out of a trailer since November 2014.

“If we come up with a good idea, we research it” and see if it is feasible, he said.

“All I do is work with doctors and nurses all day,” getting their input.

About 450 people, including hospital staff, physicians, hospital and foundation board members and donors have had private tours of the mock rooms exhibit.

The public has a couple more opportunities to view them. The first open house at 835 Harrington Ct. was held Feb. 17. The final two are scheduled for Wednesday, March 16, from 5-7 p.m., and Wednesday, April 20, from 5-7 p.m.

To attend one of the open houses, register by email at email or call Ciara McCann at 905-632-3737, ext. 2038.

There is a YouTube video of a virtual tour of what the new patient tower will look like at


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