When Fraser Health Authority decided to commission a new eight-storey critical care tower for Surrey Memorial Hospital, its vision for British Columbia’s largest ever healthcare project was clear.
The public health authority wanted to create a beacon of innovation where services were designed around the needs of patients and their families, further boosting the standards of excellence at Canada’s second largest emergency department.
The tower’s guiding design concept of a welcoming, people-centred place informed every aspect of this extension to the existing Surrey Memorial Hospital. It was also important that the new critical care facility could accommodate the sheer weight of demand for services. When Surrey Memorial Hospital was built in 1959, it served a city populace of around 50,000. By around 2013, this figure had ballooned to more than 474,000, with the number growing by around 9,000 every year.
Spacious Design With Patients in Mind
A design that offered spacious, easy-to-navigate floor plans with generous use of natural light was devised that nevertheless increased the existing hospital’s capacity. The layout created an additional 150 beds, expanding the hospital’s capacity by 30% to a total of 650 beds, and accommodating an additional 650 clinical staff and 300 support staff.
The new tower has doubled the capacity of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for babies, which also houses a new neonatal and paediatric pharmacy – the first of its kind in Canada. Expanded stroke and intensive care units, as well as other specialist units have also been created. The capacities of the Intensive Care Unit and High Acuity Unit has been boosted to 25 beds in each case, up from 15 and 10 beds respectively.
Importantly, over 80% of the tower rooms are single-patient for privacy and improved infection prevention and control. Each room includes a ‘family zone’ with a sofa bed or recliner, enabling visitors to stay close to their loved ones. Around 20% of patient rooms are special infection control rooms with their own air flow to prevent the spread of infection.
From the outset of the scheme, we consulted clinical staff to feed frontline experience into our plans. This close collaboration resulted in innovations such as the installation of special plumbing hook ups for renal dialysis in patient rooms on floors 5, 6 and 7. Patients are able to receive dialysis at their bedside rather than being transported to a separate renal unit. We also designed a highly accessible heliport for air ambulance admissions, minimising transfer times to the emergency department.
Engineering Surrey Memorial Hospital
A key complexity of this scheme was the construction of the new tower next to, and to some extent inside, a fully functioning hospital. This required us to work with the project team to fast-track the building process and keep disruption to an absolute minimum.
The client wanted to create a resource efficient building that minimized running costs. Our response was to incorporate a range of sustainable design initiatives throughout the building and the construction process. For example, we utilized durable natural materials, including wood and masonry. We selected materials that emit low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and designed state-of-the-art, energy efficient technologies.
These initiatives saw the critical care tower achieve a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification that recognizes best-in-class building practices. Furthermore, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia (ACEC-BC) presented us with an Award of Merit in Buildings for our contribution in creating Surrey’s new, cutting-edge facility.