Nova Scotia

Former Sydney dairy plant transformed into mock hospital

The former plant was turned into temporary rooms to mimic operating, clinical and surgical spaces.

Simulation allowed staff to offer feedback on the redesign of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital

From left to right: Dr. Elwood MacMullin, senior medical director of the hospital redevelopment project; Troy Penney, clinical director of the project; Dr. Blair Williams, head of surgery for Nova Scotia Health's eastern zone; and Cathy Lynn Howley, director of perioperative services for the eastern zone. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Part of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital redevelopment came to life this past week when a mock-up of several departments was constructed in the Sydney building that formerly housed the Scotsburn dairy plant.

There, doctors, nurses and housekeeping staff were able to interact with different departments of the hospital while making changes to the design.

The hospital will undergo a major redevelopment to expand the cancer centre, the emergency department and critical care units. The emergency department will double in size and have 46 exam rooms, up from 34. The redevelopment is expected to cost more than $100 million.

The mock site housed 13 temporary spaces, mimicking operating, clinical and surgical rooms. This made it possible for staff to interact with hospital equipment and to provide feedback on the layout.

Troy Penney, the clinical director of the redevelopment project, said they've also had representatives from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and patient advisers walk through to provide feedback.

This is one of the simulated operating rooms that was set up for the exercise. Set pieces were constructed by the Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney to help staff interact with the space. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

"We're learning little things, you know, the size of doorways, locations of certain equipment, so it's been a very beneficial experience for everybody in the last few days," he said. 

The open concept setup allowed for adjustments to be made when doctors were simulating an emergency situation. In some cases, initial door designs were too small, so tape on the floor was moved to mark changes for the design team.

The exercise was carried out in this Sydney building, which used to be home to a Scotsburn dairy plant. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Blair Williams, head of surgery for the hospital, said it was exciting to walk through and have interaction with the space. He said the redevelopment team has done a good job keeping physicians and staff engaged in the hospital plans.

"They're building the rooms, letting us walk through and instantly integrating our feedback," he said. "It's refreshing and exciting."

To make the space more interactive, Nova Scotia Health had members of the Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney construct set pieces and props that staff were able to use and move around.

Penney said the feedback will be taken to the design team, which will make changes to the master design. Members of Nova Scotia Health who were on site said the development project remains on schedule.

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