New Grace Hospital emergency room five times bigger than old one

The west Winnipeg hospital's new ER, which opens May 29, will be 38,000 square feet, more than five times the current 7,000 square feet.

New ER at hospital in St. James-Assiniboia opens to patients on May 29

The new Grace Hospital ER boasts much more natural light. (CBC)

The new emergency room at the Grace Hospital is more than five times the size of the old one and much more bright.

"People talked about the darkness of the former department, so we were really focused on trying to provide warm, inviting, welcoming light-filled space," said Kellie O'Rourke, COO of the hospital.

O'Rourke took media, politicians and stakeholders on a tour of the new space earlier this week, which will have an official celebratory event Thursday morning, and will open for patients on May 29. 

Grace Hospital COO Kellie O'Rourke said the new department improves sight lines as well as patient care. (CBC)

The new ER expands from the current 7,000 sq. feet to more than 38,000 sq. feet and includes a third triage desk, a total of 24 monitoring and assessment rooms, dedicated lab, X-ray and EKG space, a safe room and a walkway to the ACCESS Winnipeg walk-in clinic next door. 

The new ER also features a larger ambulance bay that can handle several ambulances at once as well as room for the Winnipeg Police Service's major incident response vehicle. 

The total cost comes to $43.8 million, including a $5 million community contribution, said the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

The goal of the renovations is the better flow and assessment of patients, as well as cost savings and easier working conditions for staff, said Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen.

Once patients are triaged and assessed, they will be directed to the appropriate area to wait for treatment. (CBC)

A major difference is "how wide open it is and how you can really see from one place to the next," said Goertzen.

"And that's really important to ensure that we're taking care of people, that nobody's getting sort of lost within the system. Somebody who needs a particular type of care, that they can be seen."

When patients walk in, they will be able to access three different triage desks. Once they're assessed, they will be taken to the appropriate area to await care, or they will be taken to the ACCESS Winnipeg West clinic next door, said O'Rourke.

The new assessment rooms include more monitoring equipment and sliding doors to help prevent the spread of germs. (CBC)

The new space significantly improves sightlines and flow, she said.

The additional monitoring rooms, many of which include new technology, mean there's less chance of having to move patients around while they are in the ER, O'Rourke said.

"We only had eight monitored spots, out of the available 20 assessment areas, so we were frequently having to move patients … if someone needed that spot more."

Staff will be given a hands-free communication device to attach to their clothes so they can talk to other staff members or take a phone call without having to leave a patient. (CBC)

Staff will be equipped with a hands-free communication system that allow them to talk to other staff or take a phone call without leaving a patient. A new system for supplies management will cut down on the amount of waste — both in time and in the waste of actual supplies, said O'Rourke. 

The new ER is the first part of Phase II of the province's sweeping health care changes, which include the eventual closure of the emergency rooms at Concordia and Seven Oaks hospitals. Renovations at St. Boniface Hospital are also part of the plan.

Phase I included the closure of the emergency room at Victoria General Hospital and the urgent care centre at Misericordia Health Centre last October.

With files from Erin Brohman


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