Yellowknife’s new, $350-million hospital opened its doors to patients for the first time – on time – on Sunday morning.
From 6am, patients were told to attend the new Stanton Territorial Hospital’s emergency room, across the parking lot from the former hospital building.
The old Stanton, built in 1988, will now become an extended care and long-term care facility among other uses.
Residents are asked to stay away from the new hospital unless they have an appointment or emergency. Tours over the past month provided an opportunity for Yellowknifers to see inside the building before it opened.
A version of this article was first published in April 2019. This version has been updated to reflect the hospital’s opening on May 26.
Work on the new project – double the size of the current space – began in October 2015.
During tours in late April, none were as anxious – and melancholy – to see the new hospital as Gail Elder, who had retired the day before her opportunity to visit the new building.
“It’s beautiful,” she said, after a quick peek into the area she would have been working in.
“The whole place is very inviting, compared to the existing hospital. A lot of patients and families could be resistant to come to the hospital because it’s stressful and it can be scary.
“I think that any of my co-workers would be proud to work here.”
Boreal Health Partnership was the private-partner consortium selected to design, build, and partially finance the new Stanton Territorial Hospital and maintain it for the next 30 years.
A second-floor lounge area. All photos: James O’Connor/Cabin Radio
The windows of a sacred space set aside for hospital visitors.
An examination room inside the new hospital.
“We are really looking forward to a lot of the new equipment we are getting,” said Stanton chief executive Kim Riles last month, when asked about the recent failure of some sterilizing equipment, forcing operational delays.
“We are hopeful some of the technical issues we have been experiencing with the old building will be lessened with the new infrastructure.
“We’re not planning program enhancements – we’re just transferring our current services to a new building – but we are future-proofed to allow for future growth as needed.”
The project was completed on time and on budget, said Gloria Badari, who is overseeing the switch – dubbed the Stanton Hospital Renewal – for the territory’s health authority.
“To the dollar?” asked Cabin Radio.
“Don’t quote me ‘to the dollar’,” she said, with a smile.
Inside a birthing room in the new maternity ward.
A sink inside the maternity ward.
The entrance to the hospital’s emergency triage area.
There are 100 patient beds in the new hospital, some 20 more than at present. The 280,000 square-foot new building approximately doubles the size of the current facility.
With so much to consider within the massive project, a major point of interest is work to provide an improved patient experience:
- All rooms are private, each with its own bathroom – a major upgrade from the existing hospital’s semi-private rooms. There are more comfortable chairs for loved ones wanting to spend the night in the patient’s room.
- All rooms face the exterior of the hospital, with large windows.
- The installation of surgical booms – an articulating arm fixture extending from the ceiling or wall – will hold equipment and tools needed for surgery. The booms help to clean up patient care areas.
- Security is upgraded, starting at the emergency room triage area – a major complaint with the existing hospital. Privacy is enhanced as well in the larger-capacity space.
- The emergency room area is far more private than the current hospital.
- The maternity ward features birthing tubs and small sinks with depressions for tiny baby bottoms.
- There are bright lounges, along with a group therapy area where activities such as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can be held.
- There is an outdoor enclosed area at the third-floor 21-bed psychiatric unit (10 beds will open right away, the same number as the existing hospital).
- A shatterproof “mental health integrated product” will be installed over the large exterior windows at the psychiatric unit, with a feature to shut out sunlight.
- There is a thoughtfully designed Sacred Area on the first floor, with ramped-up ventilation to handle smoke from Indigenous smudging ceremonies. (Some aspects of Indigenous wellness couldn’t be accommodated within the walls of an acute care hospital due to building code and safety requirements. The GNWT states it remains “committed to exploring the need for a stand-alone wellness centre, outside the walls of the acute care hospital, that could accommodate traditional activities and act as a gathering place for patients, family and friends.”)
- For the time being, some patients will still be sent south for some medical services, as the services provided are not changing as part of the renewal.
The new Stanton Territorial Hospital is owned by the Government of the Northwest Territories but controlled and operated by the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority.
An area for security staff outside the new hospital’s emergency room.
Colour schemes change according to which level you’re on inside the new hospital.
The new emergency trauma room.
The hospital is packed with state-of-the-art features but one piece of “new technology” is actually some very old industrial design.
A pneumatic tube system delivers blood samples, medications, and lab specimens to different areas in the building.
The tubes will reduce walking time, tour attendees were told, making for happier and more efficient staff.
In the main operating rooms the major components are suspended from the ceiling, cleaning up the floor area.
Outside, what could look like parking payment stations in the new, expanded lot are actually emergency assistance posts. They can be used to communicate directly with security at the new hospital via intercom and video, and can be used by staff or patients needing assistance into the new hospital.
In the short term, extended care patients will be housed in the new hospital while the “legacy” building gets renovated.
A group therapy room inside the new hospital.
A lounge area in the third-floor psychiatric ward.
The outdoor space at the psychiatric ward.
The existing Stanton Hospital, referred to as “Legacy Stanton,” will have its cladding and hazardous materials removed by the Boreal Health Partnership starting this summer.
The GNWT will maintain ownership of the building, which will be leased to Ventura Stanton Inc for development into rental space.
The vision for the building is for it to exist as part of what authorities term a “campus of care.” To date, the GNWT has committed to housing 72 long-term care beds, 18 extended care beds, outpatient rehabilitation service,s and the Frame Lake Clinic in the renovated legacy building.
Before its closure, patient levels in the old building were drawn down as much as possible while beds were transferred to the new hospital.
A second-floor operating room.
Outside the new hospital’s emergency entrance.
The donor wall inside the new facility.