Anyone who’s ever had to undergo a serious medical procedure knows that a visit to the hospital can induce a lot of anxiety — even fright.
Those are precisely the emotions that BC Children’s Hospital and B.C. Women’s Hospital hope to address with the new Teck Acute Care Centre.
The new, eight-storey state-of-the-art facility isn’t just loaded with new equipment, it’s purposely designed to help take patients’ minds off their treatment.
“I am a cancer survivor and I know full well what it means to come to a hospital fearful that the outcomes are not going to be positive,” Premier John Horgan said on Friday before he toured the facility.
“And I just can’t tell you how exciting it is to be in this new facility as we go forward to a new future where children will be coming and parents will be coming to a facility that was purpose-built for taking care of them.”
Visitors to the new centre will be greeted as they enter the main floor by a virtual underwater world, which includes an interactive digital aquarium where kids can pop bubbles or pick up seashells.
From there, the shapes and colours proliferate through the entire building, which is home to more than 200 murals; in a B.C. first, some of those paintings are in the operating rooms themselves.
“We had a whole patient committee of kids who had been in the hospital previously to help guide what the art should look like,” said Surina Sproul, BC Children’s Hospital’s director of marketing.
Other rooms packed with intimidating machinery like CT Scanners offer soothing imagery; the room where bone marrow is extracted has a ceiling made of twinkling lights meant to simulate the night sky.
“How do you keep a kid at ease, reduce that anxiety? And part of it is making that machine disappear,” Sproul said.
Other themed areas include a mock-up of the International Space Station, or sports-focused rooms sponsored by the Canucks and Whitecaps.
“To be able to use the storytelling to distract from what sometimes is a bit of a scary procedure I think will help tremendously,” clinical project lead Analyn Perez said.
The 59,400-square-metre facility has 231 private patient rooms, and will serve women and children from across the province.
It’s also home to new in-patient units, medical imaging, a hematology/oncology/bone marrow transplant department, a pediatric intensive care unit and a high-risk labour and delivery suite.
The new centre opens on Oct. 29, and marks the completion of phase two of a three-phase redevelopment of BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital. It’s all expected to cost about $676 million in total.
Phase three will involve moving the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children to the Oak Street campus and the creation of 10 new single-room maternity care spaces.
Work on the final phase is set to begin next year.
-With files from Lynn Colliar and Jeremy Lye