Improving the health of women, newborns, and families

By Anna Guy

In what is already a very challenging time for parents, the thought of being separated from one’s while they stay in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can make it even harder. In what is an innovative and progressive move—the only of its kind in North America—the new Teck Acute Care Centre in BC Children’s Hospital will allow Moms and their NICU babies to receive care in the same space, and parents will be allowed to stay with their babies around the clock.
The opening of the Teck Acute Care Centre in October, 2017 marked the completion of the second phase of the BC Children’s and BC Women’s Redevelopment Project, a three-phase, multi-year initiative at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre.

B.C. Premier John Horgan was on hand at the official opening, and said “When children need hospital care, they should be in a place that feels like home, where they can play, exercise their imagination, and be surrounded by family to help them heal. This new centre means better care for thousands of patients and their families from every part of B.C. who access the building.”

Each area of the building is modelled after a different part of B.C. with the hope that children, women and their families can feel at home. The room where medical procedures, such as bone marrow extractions, are performed will have a ceiling lit with as many as 100 twinkling LED lights. These lights will recreate the night sky over Vancouver and show major constellations.

“The new acute-care centre will provide improved comfort and privacy for families in their time of need,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix, citing the NICU. “[by keeping] new moms together with their babies in the same room, [we are] helping to promote bonding and reduce stress. This model of care means less separation for families and is a key way to help ensure these vulnerable babies get the very best start in life.”

The Teck Acute Care Centre will serve the entire province. It features a larger children’s emergency department, additional patient beds and an expanded neonatal intensive care unit—all equipped with single-patient rooms. Patients and families will have access to laundry facilities, family lounges and dining rooms, play areas, resource rooms, and storage space. Natural light and green spaces will add to the health and well-being of patients and staff.

“I am proud to say phase two of this ambitious project was delivered on time and on budget,” said Tim Manning, Provincial Health Services Authority board chair. “We applaud the countless hours of work by our partners, our patients and families, and our health-care teams, along with those who generously donated to the project.” The eight-floor, 59,400 square-metre (640,000 square-foot) centre has 231 private patient rooms, medical/surgical in-patient units, medical imaging, procedural suites, a hematology/oncology/ bone marrow transplant department, a pediatric intensive care unit, and a high-risk labour and delivery suite.

Also opening is the BC Women’s Urgent Care Centre, which will provide care for women throughout their pregnancies and up to six weeks post-birth. The urgent-care centre, which is expected to see approximately 13,000 patients a year, includes 10 larger, single-patient rooms that will provide a quieter space with increased privacy for new moms and families.

Susan Wannamaker is president of BC Children’s and Women’s Health. She praised the efforts of staff and physicians at both hospitals for a seamless transition. “They have great enthusiasm for the new space, technology and equipment that will continue to support the exceptional care they provide.” The new facility will help the hospitals attract and retain the very top health professionals and clinical staff, Wannamaker added.

Phase three of the redevelopment project includes relocating Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children to the Oak Street Campus and the addition of 10 single-room maternity-care spaces at BC Women’s Hospital. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018. The total cost of the three-phase redevelopment project is estimated at $676 million.