New St. Paul’s Hospital boasts technological advances, bigger spaces

We’re still years away from the opening of the new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, but Providence Health Care is giving the public a sneak peak into what the $2 billion facility will look like.

As the health care system continues to face immense pressure, the new hospital can’t open quickly enough.

Mock rooms of what the finished product will look were unveiled Thursday, showing the vast differences between what the new facility will offer compared to the aging building in the city’s West End.

When it opens, technological advances will be front and centre. Operating rooms will also be 30 per cent larger to give doctors and nurses the room they need to work, project leads say.

Clinical lead Josh Chipperfield stands in an operating room example for the new St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver

Clinical lead Josh Chipperfield stands in an operating room example for the new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. (Martin MacMahon, CityNews)

“When you’ve got a nice sort of relatively square or rectangular room and it’s large enough, you can change the orientation within the room for different procedures, meet the needs of specific procedures and equipment that might come in, and with that space we can do that. Before, if were hampered by space or even the shape of the room, it’s really tricky,” explained Josh Chipperfield, one of the clinical leads on the project.

“We’re going to have two even bigger operating rooms that we call hybrid rooms, which are really sort of future-thinking, fantastic rooms to be able to move the type of care that we provide forward and meet the needs of some of the future innovations that are coming in cardiac care.”

Operating rooms aren’t the only spaces that will be bigger. Clinical lead Tanya Campbell says critical care rooms will be more spacious. In addition to being private, they will also have space for family to stay — even overnight.

“Hopefully it’ll be much more of a quiet environment for them, much more [conducive] to a healing environment. And the plan for the future is they’ll have a lot more control within their room — so they’ll have control of changing the lighting and the temperature of that room where they wouldn’t have that right now,” Campbell said.

“We’re going to have a lot more digital displays, lots more interactive things for the patients and families to have, and then also the equipment that we’re going to go forward with is a lot different than what we currently have at St. Paul’s.”

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Meanwhile, Claire MacEwing, also a clinical project lead, says the hospital will also have specialized rooms for mental health patients.

“In the mental health unit, these rooms are unique in that they have some really special features that are extra safe for mental health patients. So everything in the room is tamper resistant, you can’t grab onto anything, you can’t unscrew anything. So the features and fixtures in these spaces are unique for mental health,” she said.

At this point, 90 per cent of the design work for the new hospital is complete.

“You can really feel just amongst everybody it’s starting to come to life, even though we’ve got a few more years to go before. We have to temper the excitement a little bit. It’s just going to be fantastic for staff and for patients of St. Paul’s,” Chipperfield said.

The current St. Paul’s Hospital, located on Burrard Street in Vancouver, first opened in the 1800s.

Providence Health Care, which operates the facility, notes it’s an acute care, teaching, and research hospital, “home to many world-class medical and surgical programs, including heart and lung services, HIV/AIDS, mental health, emergency, critical care, kidney care, elder care and numerous surgical specialties.”

The new hospital is set to open in 2027. It will be located near Station Street by the Pacific Central Train Station — about three kilometres from its current home. The facility will be built on an 18.4 acre site — nearly triple the size of the current lot.

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