Redeveloped unit: Future of patient care environments at NYGH

As patients and families enter the newly redeveloped 7th and 8th floors of the Steinberg Family Acute Care Unit at North York General Hospital (NYGH), they will quickly come to appreciate the ample space and sweeping, “healing” views of the city from patient rooms. 

a private hospital room

More single occupancy rooms in the unit increase the protection of our patients and families by reducing the potential of hospital-acquired infections.

Practically all the patient rooms in the new Medicine and Neuro-Stroke Unit — 16 out of 18 rooms — are private while two are semi-private.

``Neuro/Stroke was selected to move into the redeveloped unit because these patients need a variety of mobility aids such as walkers and wheelchairs, says Scott Lewis, Planning Coordinator, NYGH. “Patients reap immediate benefits from the ample space in each room, bathroom and corridors due to increased safety with ease of mobility.”

Advantages of single occupancy rooms 

Privacy and confidentiality

Incorporating more single occupancy rooms for patients and families has many positive outcomes. Private rooms provide valuable privacy and confidentiality for patients with families and visitors, as well as when speaking to nurses, physicians, and interdisciplinary team members. Privacy is further enhanced by glass panels that change from clear to opaque with the flick of a switch! Private rooms are also quieter. Reduced noise encourages better sleep — aiding in recovery and an overall improved patient and family experience. 

Patient safety

a single patient room

Single occupancy room on 8 SE.

“More single occupancy rooms in the hospital increase the protection of our patients and families by reducing the potential of hospital-acquired infections,” says Cliff Harvey, Vice President, Planning, Facilities and Support Services.

In fact, two of the private rooms on each floor are Airborne Precaution Rooms (APR) which are negative pressure isolation rooms for the treatment of airborne illnesses. They have a ventilation system that allows air to be vented directly to the external environment without flowing into the rest of the inpatient unit.

“The addition of four new private APR rooms and 32 private rooms in total, means infectious patients get quicker access to single occupancy rooms, lessening the wait — which is especially important during flu season.”

Inpatient rehabilitation facilities

a woman looks out a large window in a single patient room
Patient rooms on the newly redeveloped Steinberg Family Acute Care Unit have sweeping "healing" views of the city.

NYGH's Patient and Family Advisors provided meaningful input on aspects of the unit's design, and the hospital used appealing wall colours and included senior friendly elements. Functional decline of patients cared for in the Medicine and Neuro/Stroke Unit is a reality the hospital addressed by providing large button phones, raised toilets, senior friendly showers and safety-locked doors with card access to safeguard wandering patients. 

“Our patients come first in everything we do,” says Susan Woollard, Director, Medicine and Elder Care Program. “The full rehabilitation gym on the 8th floor has a tub to help patients practise getting in and out of the bath, an important addition that our Stroke Assessment Treatment Team will use to promote early recovery and help patients transition from the hospital to home or community-based care.” 

North York General's Stroke Assessment Treatment Team includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurse practitioners and speech language pathologists who are available seven days a week to provide early rehabilitation for patients on their journey to recovery. 

Best practices in technology and resources

Leading edge technology was used in the unique two-floor layout to ensure nurses and other staff have the ability to work together effectively. Communication devices and software are used so staff can easily communicate to each other between floors and make informed decisions quickly. 

“Seamless care delivery for our patients is always important to us, and essential in a two-story layout,” says Susan. Digital room signage has been installed outside every patient room. It is being tested, with a plan to use it in the near future to communicate important real-time patient updates that could relate to patients at risk of falling, isolation status or allergies. This will help health care providers prepare for patient needs even before entering a patient's room. 

A variety of green energy efficient strategies, for which NYGH was recognized, was also carefully built into both floors. “We installed occupancy sensors, LED lights, and heating controls to maximize energy conservation,” says Scott. “This new unit will consume between 30–40% less energy than a typical unit — delivering both financial savings and environmental benefits.” 

A glimpse into the future 

wide hallways in the new unit
The wide corridors provide ample space for walkers and wheelchairs.

The innovative design and features of the 7th and 8th floors demonstrate how the hospital is committed to continuous improvements and best practices in patient- and family-centred care.

“This redevelopment is just a glimpse into the future of what NYGH can and will do in our facilities and future projects for the benefit of our patients and their families,” says Cliff.

The new unit opened its doors to welcome patients and families on March 22, 2017, and was funded through the generous financial contributions of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, private donors, Charlotte and Lewis Steinberg, and hospital funds.

This article first appeared in the April 2017 issue of The Pulse.

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