Kingston General Hospital: Ted Darby, VP of Planning and Facilities

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With constant advancements in technology and increased focus on patient and family centered care, many hospitals are finding that their facilities need upgrades to meet these changes and new demands. But knowing where to begin addressing these needs and how to adapt new technology to existing facilities can be challenging.

Ted Darby, vice president of planning and facilities for Kingston General Hospital in Ontario, has been entrenched in major redevelopment and renovation to the facility. Darby is responsible for facility planning, construction, plant operations and maintenance, safety and security, environmental services and food services.  KGH is in the midst of a $196 million dollar redevelopment project that features seven components. To expand services and add patient rooms, KGH has built two additional floors on top of one tower and three additional floors on another building. The completed project will create 170,000 square feet of new space and renovate another 143,000 square feet.

Darby said he has noticed a trend toward increased space, but not necessarily increased beds. “The trends are for more intensive care, more technology and more space per patient room, but not larger facilities because we are seeing a reduction in the number of beds,” he said. “We see improved lengths of stay and care delivered in other settings such as the home. But we need to upgrade our facilities because we can’t deliver the care expected today in facilities that are more than about 30 years old.”

With some of KGH’s facilities nearing a century old, the hospital needed to expand but also work on redeveloping existing space. “The new areas are bright, spacious and modern even though the design was sometimes constrained by the existing buildings,” Darby said.

Although it had to work within existing facilities for much of the expansion and renovation, KGH incorporated new technology and provided more comfortable spaces for patients and families. One new floor includes a 25-bed pediatric inpatient unit with all private rooms, six critical care beds and increased rehabilitation space, while the floor below has beds for medicine and oncology patients, with two nursing stations for each patient population and a family lounge area. The unit also features six positive pressure rooms for patients with compromised immune systems.

Another component of the project is the first phase of an expansion of the intensive care unit, which features critical care bays with articulating boom arms, ceiling mounted patient lifts and three negative-pressure rooms. The expanded ICU will also provide a family-friendly environment with a lounge area and quiet consultation rooms. Once the entire ICU expansion is complete, KGH will increase its capacity from 21 to 33 critical care beds.

Other parts of the redevelopment project include upgrades to central processing services (the area where surgical and treatment instruments and equipment are sterilized), enhanced adult and child mental health facilities, a new and expanded dialysis unit, and expanded cancer treatment capacity.

Making the projects happen

Obtaining government investment for major building projects is the first challenge, Darby said. Once the money is in hand, a facility must look at how to achieve good design for the best value for money in an environment where regulations, codes, standards and best practices are constantly changing.

Darby said the key to success is finding the right people, with the proper expertise and maintaining a strong relationship with the consulting team, contractors and regulatory authorities.

“This is not a place to learn on the job,” Darby said. “You want to have a design team that thoroughly understands hospitals and the needs of hospitals, particularly when you’re building inside, on top of and around a functioning tertiary care hospital. You want your mechanical and electrical contractors to really understand how hospitals work.”

Environmentally friendly design and flexibility are also components of modern design.

“We are conscious of green initiatives and standards and are constantly looking at ways to incorporate technologies that enable us to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.

-by Patricia Chaney

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