Serving More Patients Better at the JGH

Spring 2011

Artist’s conception of Pavilion K. Illustration by jodoin lamarre pratte | gross kaplin coviensky | architectes en consortium.

After more than 75 years of success, the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) faces a new set of challenges: a growing elderly population, a “baby boom” in the surrounding neighbourhood, an increasing volume of annual visits to the emergency room, and rapid changes in health care and health care technologies. The hospital is responding to this changing landscape with the launch of the most ambitious expansion project in the JGH’s history: the development of an all-new hospital wing, Pavilion K. “This Pavilion will make substantial improvements possible in the quality of care for patients, families and visitors, while enabling staff to work at the peak of their expertise,” says Hartley Stern, executive director of the Jewish General Hospital and professor of Surgery at McGill University.

Plans for the new Pavilion began in the mid-2000s, under the direction of a small group, including then-executive director Henri Elbaz, architect Yael Harroche and director of Planning & Real Estate Development at the JGH, Philippe Castiel. “The needs of Quebec’s population are ever-expanding,” says Castiel. “We need to ensure that the JGH is ready to respond appropriately. To do so, we require more space.” In 2005, the JGH acquired a sizeable property adjacent to its current location and the planning process went into high gear. In June 2010, the hospital got the go-ahead from the Quebec government to begin building.

The Pavilion, which will face Légaré Street and occupy the land north of Cummings Pavilion and west of Pavilion H, will focus on critical care patients. The first phase of construction consists of a new emergency unit, scheduled to open in 2012. “Since the JGH must cope with one of the busiest emergency departments in Quebec, a new facility is essential to handle the growing numbers,” says Stern. Emergency room visits now total around 70,000 annually, nearly double the number the current department was built to handle.

The JGH serves a diverse patient population including nearly one-third of the city’s elderly population (aged 75 or over), and a high proportion of low-income patients. Residents from the surrounding community form one of the largest and fastest-growing immigrant neighbourhoods in Canada. Each patient group has specific needs. “In 2009-2010, there were 4,498 babies born at the JGH – more than at any other hospital in the province,” explains Stern. Subsequent phases of Pavilion K will therefore include neonatal facilities.

The Pavilion will also house new, more spacious operating rooms and bright, modern facilities for medical and surgical intensive care, coronary care and cardiology. Each patient room in Pavilion K will contain only one bed so the hospital can better safeguard against new forms of infection and to respect patients’ need for privacy and dignity. “We want our patients, staff and visitors to feel at ease to as great an extent as possible during their stay,” says Castiel. And patient rooms in the Intensive Care Unit and the Coronary Care Unit will also provide pullout couches to allow family members to spend the night.

“As impressive as this project is, it’s more than a new pavilion,” says Stern. “It’s a way of bringing major improvements to the health care system of this province and it will serve Quebecers extremely well for generations to come.”

[Maria Turner]

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