WLMH marks anniversary of ground-breaking
So much has happened since the end of last April when hospital and community members gathered at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) to break ground on the long-awaited new hospital.
“It’s been a busy year,” said Kelly Campbell, vice-president corporate services and capital development at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). “From the moment the contract with our build partner (EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare) was signed, crews started working to prepare the site for construction. The site has been bustling with activity every day since.”
The site required a number of projects to be completed prior to construction starting, including the relocation and demolition of a few existing structures. Read more about all of the site early works here.
With a relatively blank canvas to build on, activity ramped up in the early fall. More and more trades reported to the site daily, working on the future build and finalizing access routes for construction vehicles while updating some operational elements of the existing hospital, like the existing emergency department ramp. The year ended off with the tower crane installation.
“WLMH is a pretty tight site which can create challenges to maintain hospital operations while construction is going on. Lots of planning, energy and attention to detail has been required to ensure that first and foremost, patients and patient transport have uninterrupted access to the existing hospital,” said Campbell.
Exhibits and milestones
The project has continued to pick up steam in 2023. In March, site staff and physicians got a sneak peek at new spaces in the future hospital through a time-limited room mock up exhibit.
“The high fidelity mock ups were a great opportunity for the people who will be working in the new hospital to get a sense of the design and layouts. It will have a completely different look and feel from the existing hospital which people are used to, so it helps everyone visualize what it will be like,” said Campbell.
Earlier this month, the project crossed another important progress marker with the pouring of the first slab. Concrete columns now outline the new building as the hospital is starting to take shape.
Transition planning underway
It may or may not come as a surprise that moving an entire hospital (and patients) into a new building takes considerable planning. This process, commonly known as “operational readiness” in the health sector, involves looking at every piece of hospital operations, from what equipment needs to move and when, to scheduling appointments in the new building.
“Operational readiness is really thinking about how we are going to live and function in the new building,” says Jennifer Robinson, project manager at HHS leading operational planning. “What does the staffing look like, patient flow and day-to-day operations? Which existing policies and processes will need to change? That all gets organized now so as we get closer to move-in, we have a solid plan for a seamless transition from the old building to the new one.”
A committee has been established to guide this work, made up of hospital experts from many clinical and administrative specialties. The focus of this process will change as the project gets closer and closer to opening the doors on the new hospital.
“One year from now – which will be about one year from occupancy – we will really start focusing on transition, like ramping up and ramping down and in what sequence. For example, once we have the all clear to move in, Security and Facilities teams will move in first to set up safety procedures and infrastructure. Our detailed planning will drill into when other support services move in; all in preparation to support the patient move-in day and balance patient services on site,“said Robinson.