Demolition makes space for new emergency department

The world has changed a great deal since March, but work on the new emergency department (ED) at the Misericordia Community Hospital is still proceeding. Contractors have managed to continue on schedule, due in large part to the construction site being to the west of the main hospital, and the timing of a new ED has never been more crucial. 

Demolition took a significant step forward in May when an excavator removed the former Family Medicine Centre building. Until then, remediation work had been happening inside the buildings. Large-scale demolition of the former chapel and West Annex are scheduled to happen in June. The existing ED continues to operate and care for patients. 

An excavator demolishes the former Family Medicine Centre to make room for the new ED.

“I think there's a sense of relief, but to me, there's also a sense of urgency,” says Jan Schimpf, senior operating officer at the Misericordia. “As we're going through COVID, knowing that it isn't going away, our current infrastructure has made it challenging to administer patient care through the emergency department.”

While the existing ED was built for 25,000 visits, it’s currently used by more than 50,000 people annually. The new ED, at nearly three times the size, will be built to accommodate more than 60,000 patients each year. The design includes 66 treatment spaces, up from the current 26, which include six private isolation rooms (up from one) and 16 acute treatment spaces (up from 12).  

“As we look at our role as health providers, it’s about being good community partners,” says Jan.

Living through the challenges of COVID-19 and the need to put people with any flu-like symptoms in isolation, it became apparent that any ED design must take things like pandemic protocols into consideration.

When the project team went back to review the new ED design, it learned that modern standards address much of those needs.

“We wanted to make sure that the design endures and that it isn’t outdated before it's built,” says Jan. 

During ongoing demolition and construction, some of the parking spots in the front parking lot will be required as part of the construction site. That may mean changes to traffic flow for periods of time.

To reduce the challenges this may cause patients and their families, and to alleviate any overflow, signs direct traffic to a parking lot behind the hospital, and eight additional handicap parking spots have been added on the south side of the Mother Rosalie building.

The floor plan of the new emergency department

The new ED will meet the needs of today and tomorrow while staying true to Covenant Health’s commitment to those we serve, says Jan. 

“As we look at our role as health providers, it’s about being good community partners,” says Jan. “It’s about serving people well, and certainly with the emergency department design and our commitment to serve people through the charism of the Misericordia Sisters, it comes down to three things: it's hospitality, everybody's welcome and whomever enters our building, we want them to have a positive experience.”

Construction of the new Misericordia ED is expected to finish in late 2022, and the ED is scheduled to open in 2023. 

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