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B.C.’s sickest kids to be moved en masse to new acute care centre

What does it take to move more than a hundred patients and about 4,000 staff from two hospitals to a new building? Planning. Lots and lots of it. After months of preparation, the hospital redevelopment team at B.C. Children’s and B.C.
Victoria Lau (left) and Claire Turenne help friend and patient at B.C. Children's Hospital Zoe Katz (centre) pack her bag in anticipation of moving to the newly constructed Teck Acute Care Centre, at B.C. Children's Hospital.

What does it take to move more than a hundred patients and about 4,000 staff from two hospitals to a new building? Planning. Lots and lots of it. 

After months of preparation, the hospital redevelopment team at B.C. Children’s and B.C. Women’s hospitals is about to tackle the most delicate part of the move to the new Teck Acute Care Centre: transferring approximately 120 patients, including some of the province’s most critically ill children. 

“For some of these families, this is a second home or a first home,” said redevelopment project manager James Stewart. “For some of these kids, it’s almost like moving home.” 

The key to a successful move is to remember who it’s for, said Stewart. “Supporting our staff and ensuring our patients and families don’t see a reduction in care — that’s one of the key things.” 

The 200 people who make up the moving team will start gathering Sunday at 5 a.m. At 7 a.m., they’ll start moving patients, one after the other, every two minutes to the new Teck centre, which is located behind the old hospital building. 

Each patient will be accompanied by four people, each wearing a colour-coded T-shirt that identifies his or her role, such as porter, registered nurse or respiratory therapist. 

Stewart estimates it will take 10 minutes to move a patient from old bed to new bed. Moving patients in the intensive-care units, which require more equipment and more staff, will take about 20 minutes per patient. 

Stewart will spend most of his day at a command centre in the new building, overseeing the move and addressing issues as they arise. 

To prepare for the move, hospital staff conducted three mock moves, working with Health Care Relocations, an Ontario-based company that has completed more than 400 hospital moves around the world.

The first mock move, in January, used floor plans and Lego pieces to allow planners to get a feel for the flow and identify potential roadblocks. 

The second, in July, recorded the time taken for each move. “This involved a bed, medical equipment and a stop watch,” said Stewart. “This is when we tested corners, elevators, floor surfaces and processes.” 

The final mock move involved each department conducting its own trial to familiarize staff with the route and confirm their responsibilities. 

In the lead-up to move day, the hospital worked with the Provincial Health Services Authority to reduce the number of patients in its care, scheduling procedures and appointments around the move. Move day was scheduled for a Sunday because it’s the quietest day of the week, when no elective surgeries are scheduled. 

About a month ago, the hospital’s redevelopment project team shot a video that shows patients and their families how the move will unfold and what to expect. Patients are allowed to take one bag and have one family member accompany them during the move.

Approximately 55 preemies in the neonatal intensive care unit at B.C. Women’s Hospital and about 70 patients at B.C. Children’s will move to the new eight-storey Teck Acute Care Centre, which includes 231 private patient rooms, eight operating rooms, and an emergency department triple the size of the old one.

The new building also includes several playrooms, a school room where patients can continue their studies, and rooftop gardens.

The new space is a boon for patients and their families. But such a move comes with challenges. Studies have shown that hospital moves without proper planning and support can result in poor patient care, service disruption, and increased mortality. 

Scott Fraser-Dauphinee and Melissa Sallows, two leaders on the hospital’s redevelopment project team, have been working for months to help the nurses, doctors, radiologists, physiotherapists, lab technicians, administrative staff and other health care professionals who are making the move to transition smoothly to the Teck centre.

Hospital staff participated in three day-in-the-life training sessions. Each time, about a dozen different units ran a total of 40 scenarios. During each session, issues were identified and logged. If a drawer didn’t open, that was logged. If lights didn’t go on, that was logged. 

“The whole point of day-in-the-life is to identify if there are issues that still need to be resolved,” said Fraser-Dauphinee. 

In the first session, about 500 issues were recorded; in the second, 150; in the third, about 100. 

The hospital move team also recruited about 30 people from different departments, trained them, then asked them to design training for their colleagues. 

“We’re not training people on how to do their jobs, but training them to do their jobs in a new environment,” said Fraser-Dauphinee. 

Kathleen Sullivan, a registered pediatric intensive care nurse recruited by the redevelopment team, has spent the past year training other nurses how to carry out their work in the new building.

At the Teck Acute Care Centre, for example, nurses and other staff will use a new communications system called Vocera. It’s a hands-free, voice-activated device that’s clipped on to a shirt or lanyard. The system will allow staff to respond more quickly to patients’ needs — which is key when treating kids, said Sullivan.

“Kids compensate so much when they’re sick,” she said. “Kids can maintain their heart rate and blood pressure so they look fine and the vital signs are OK. Then, in a matter of seconds, they can completely deteriorate. Our teams have to act fast. You need to know where all that equipment is, and where things are, and who is going to help you.” 

Helping colleagues prepare for the move has been immensely rewarding, she said.

“You get to be there when people are coming into the new space. We’ve had people cry because they’re so excited. We had a lot of positivity around it. It’s been really great.” 

The B.C. Children’s and B.C. Women’s Hospital Redevelopment Project

• Project design began in 2010 with fixed costs of $676 to $678 million. Teck Resources contributed $25 million to the fundraising campaign. About 80,000 donors contributed $200 million toward the hospital redevelopment project; the balance is funded by taxpayers.

• Phase 1, 2010-2014: Construction of the clinical support building, additional space for the UBC Faculty of Medicine and the Djavad Mowafaghian Child Care Centre. 

• Phase 2, 2014-2017: Construction of the Teck Acute Care Centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital. It opens Oct. 29.

• Phase 3, 2018-2020: Relocation of Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, which specializes in rehabilitation, to the Oak Street campus, and 10 more rooms for maternity care at B.C. Women’s. The former neonatal intensive care unit and former Children’s Hospital emergency department will be renovated to make way for Sunny Hill patients. 

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