At the northwest corner of Jane Street and Major Mackenzie Drive in Vaughan is a mammoth medical facility years in the making, but the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital is now just months away from opening.
At a time when hospitals across Canada are being overwhelmed by capacity issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new hospital is expected to alleviate some of that pressure.
Altaf Stationwala, president and CEO of Mackenzie Health, told Global News they were approached by Ontario’s minister of health several months ago to assist with surgical backlogs.
Stationwala said they will not only be addressing Mackenzie Health’s own backlog, but will be providing assistance to William Osler Health System and Southlake Regional Health Centre.
“When we open, we will be providing them access to some additional ORs so they can actually deal with some of the patients that have been delayed in their care,” he explained.
The project received government approval in July 2011 and the groundbreaking took place in October 2016.
At 1.2 million square feet, the new hospital sits on land formerly owned by Canada’s Wonderland.
“I’ve been a resident of Vaughan for 16, 17 years and it is the largest city in the country without its own dedicated hospital,” said Stationwala.
“It’s not just growing in the traditional sense of a suburban community, but it’s actually an urban community. We see the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, so we see a thriving growing city.”
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With a population of 335,000 people, Vaughan has been one of the fastest growing cities in Canada.
Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital is being billed as the first smart hospital in the country.
“The technology is integrated and speaks to each other,” explained Mary-Agnes Wilson, chief operating officer and chief nurse executive.
For those contemplating the value of the technology to their quality of care, Wilson pointed to the type of access they will have to their medical information, which is updated in real time.
MyCare bedside tablets will be available in all inpatient units. Whenever a care provider walks into the room, their photograph and name appear on the television screen as well as the tablet.
They can also access information about medications they have been prescribed, order meals, adjust the temperature in their rooms, and the beds automatically gauge a patient’s weight, which is updated in their electronic medical record.
“We’re not closing down a hospital and opening a new hospital. We’re actually opening a new hospital,” said Wilson.
“The capacity we’re creating by doing that is certainly going to have an effect in western York Region and in York Region altogether, and for our partner hospitals who are feeling burdened with their capacity issues.”
The Ontario government invested $1.3 billion in the project, which represents the lion’s share of the funding. However, a considerable portion of construction costs and medical equipment was funded by donations.
The Ultimate Suits You campaign, chaired by Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, has a goal of $250 million. To date, more than $178 million has been raised. Bevilacqua credited perseverance and tenacity with getting them to this point.
“We were a city of 250,000 back then,” he recalled.
“The only city in the entire province that size that did not have a hospital, but you know sometimes patience works out. It worked well for us because at the end of the day, we ended up getting a world-class hospital that’s going to provide world-class health care.”