New operating rooms and clinical space at the Dartmouth General Hospital will boast medical technology “a couple of generations” beyond what was there before, the hospital’s chief of staff says.
“The difference is night and day,” Dr. Todd Howlett, an emergency physician at the hospital, told reporters Tuesday after the Neville J. Gilfoy wing was officially opened.
“In our endoscopy suites, our OR suites, . . . the changes there are phenomenal. There’s changes in the lighting, the anesthesia machines. I mean we are really talking about a state of the art OR presently that is probably one of the best in Canada.”
The first patients will come into the new space on Monday. The additions include eight operating rooms (doubling the OR space), clinical space with more exam and procedure rooms, larger waiting and reception areas and office space and a new space with state-of-the-art equipment for cleaning and sterilizing medical instruments.
The $150-million DGH project is part of the province’s estimated $2 billion QEII New Generation redevelopment project. A $100-million project at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney will see an additional emergency department, critical care and cancer centre built.
The work in Dartmouth will allow the hospital to take on some of the health-care work now done at the old Victoria General Hospital site in south-end Halifax.
Besides the three-storey addition unveiled Tuesday, there’s a new entrance and two floors were renovated in 2017.
“We really envision this facility becoming a centre of excellence,” particularly for orthopedic surgeries, Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters after the official opening ceremonies.
Two of the new ORs will be dedicated to orthopedic surgery, and this will help establish the new Fred Smithers Centre for Orthopedic Care, which should reduce waiting lists for things like knee and hip replacements. Smithers, the founder of Secunda Marine, a Dartmouth-based offshore services firm, has donated $2 million to the hospital’s fundraising campaign, and is helping raise more money.
The hospital’s foundation has raised $12 million of its $13-million goal, its CEO Stephen Harding said at the official opening, which also included remarks by the premier, Judy Porter, the hospital’s patient and family adviser, surgeon Dr. Alex Mitchell and Ann Janega, the wife of the late Neville J. Gilfoy for whom the addition has been named.
Gilfoy, who published the magazine Progress and was an enthusiastic booster of the business community in Atlantic Canada, worked closely with the O’Regan automobile family dynasty, which has contributed $2 million to the project.
“Needless to say, the family is just thrilled by this great honour,” Janega told the gathering.
Other donors include Al and Mary McPhee of the McPhee automotive family and SaltWire, this newspaper’s parent company.
Before the official ceremonies, the media, politicians and other officials were given a tour that included the new operating rooms, which are lined by rows of windows to provide natural light, recovery rooms and a state-of-the-art sterilization facility for medical equipment.
“We have some of the lowest rates of infections anyways but what we want to do is stay on the leading edge of that and make sure we can drive those rates down even lower,” Howlett said, referring to the significant upgrades in the sterilization section of the new wing.
Besides the Gilfoy wing, the DGH redevelopment eventually will include new radiology and inpatient space. The entire project is expected to be done in about 18 months, Howlett said.
As for the Halifax side of the QEII New Generation work, the premier told reporters that requests for proposals soon will be issued for the replacement of parking facilities at the Halifax Infirmary and also for the new outpatient site planned in Bayers Lake.