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Take a look inside the new Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife

The new Stanton Territorial Hospital is on time and on budget, and includes many improvements over the old operation, representatives say.

Yellowknifers and others got a chance to check out the territory’s new main hospital on the weekend

The new Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife is expected be open for business May 26. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The new Stanton Territorial Hospital was open for a sneak peek over the weekend.

The facility rings in as the most expensive construction project in Yellowknife's history with a $350 million price tag that includes capital and management costs.

The new hospital is expected to open its doors at the end of May.

"Emergency in the current Stanton [hospital] will close at 6:00 a.m. on the 26th and we will open over here at 6 a.m.," said Gloria Badari, executive director of the Stanton Renewal Project, speaking to reporters inside the new building.

Badari said the public-private partnership project is on time and on budget.

The new hospital is state-of-the-art, with mostly brand new equipment throughout, including new equipment sterilizers.

The main operating room, for example, has major equipment suspended from the ceiling by booms — articulating arms — for ease of mobility and maximized floor space.

Participants on a tour of the new Stanton Territorial Hospital take in the hospital's state-of-the-art operating room. Equipment suspended from the ceiling maximizes floor space. (Walter Strong/CBC)

"The booms are new technology for us," said Kim Riles, chief operating officer with the N.W.T. Health and Social Services Authority. "In our current hospital [we] don't have this. Our services are either on mobile carts or they're integrated into the walls.

"These booms have all of the gases, the suction, the data, light sources ... integrated into them and they allow a lot of mobility in terms of being able to configure the room how you need it depending on the type of procedure that's being carried out."

Most of the installed new equipment remained under protective plastic wrap during the tour — sanitary concerns meant tour participants had to wear disposable slippers over their shoes — and little will be brought over from the old hospital except for some of the most recently purchased equipment.

Very little in the new hospital won't be new. Some equipment will be brought over from the old hospital, but mostly equipment is new. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The new emergency room ranks high with Riles in terms of improvements over the old facility. The current emergency room at Stanton is cramped and can feel over-crowded quickly. The new emergency facilities appear to more than double the amount of space dedicated to patient waiting and treatment areas, as well as facilities for staff.

"We have roughly twice as many clinical spaces in this emergency department," Riles said. "It's a vast improvement."

The emergency room central nursing station in the new hospital provides for more space and line of sight than in the old hospital. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Patient experience part of design process

During the tour patient experience was described as one of the top priorities for the new hospital. There are many floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the building. 

A multipurpose room in the new Stanton Territorial Hospital. The building was designed to take advantage of available light. (Walter Strong/CBC)

"There's many studies that show that people heal faster … when they get lots of natural light," Badari said. "We had some really good architects working on the project that tried to make use of exterior light and borrowed light as much as we possibly can in the building."

The hospital's meditation room, or "sacred space," gives the sensation of being inside a glass-enclosed half-teepee. It's been equipped with ventilation to allow for traditional smudging ceremonies inside the space, something that will be encouraged, a departmental spokesperson said.

A view of the sloped exterior wall and ceiling space inside the new hospital's 'sacred space.' It is ventilated to allow for smudging ceremonies. (Walter Strong/CBC)

A birthing room in the new hospital includes a birthing tub station designed with the help of midwifery staff from Fort Smith.

"We have tubs available for our labouring moms. As you can see they have access on three sides to allow their care providers to be able to support them however needed while they're in the tub," Riles said.

A birthing tub in the new Stanton Territorial Hospital. The birthing room was designed in consultation with midwifery staff from Fort Smith. (Walter Strong/CBC)

One piece of new technology isn't really new at all, just new to any hospital in the N.W.T.

A network of pneumatic tubes has been installed connecting several nursing stations, clinical areas, the pharmacy and lab diagnostic services. Air pressure is used to transport sealed capsules between stations.

"These have been a long-standing technology in lots of hospitals," Riles said. "It allows us to use a secure capsule to send medications, lab specimens, etcetera, throughout the hospital without actually having to use sneaker time to get things back and forth."

Kim Riles, Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority chief operating officer, stands at a pneumatic tube station. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Between now and May 26 staff will continue to ready the new facility for operation.

Riles said clinical teams are "getting into all of our faces" as they wait for the green light to begin making the new space their own.

"We're really getting into a full on preparation [and] loading-in mode. As terminal cleans are happening through the building staff are going to start being able to actually put stuff, supplies, paper … in all of the clinical spaces."

A lounge area in the new Stanton Territorial Hospital with the old hospital visible through the window. The building was designed to take advantage of available light. (Walter Strong/CBC)

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