A glassed-in stairway extends from the fifth to the first floors in the new Polson tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

A glassed-in stairway extends from the fifth to the first floors in the new Polson tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

A tower of opportunities unfold

Health care workers have put their personal stamp on Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s expansion

  • Jun. 19, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Health care workers have put their personal stamp on Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s expansion.

Whether it is local scenes  depicted on walls, the placement of equipment or a desk specifically for children, doctors, nurses and other staff played a role in shaping the Polson tower.

“I can name teams who contributed to the design,” said Yolanda Short, manager of operational planning.

“It’s very much the community’s building and the staff’s building.”

A ceremony was held Friday to mark the 100-day countdown until the $180 million tower opens to patients Sept. 25.

Until then, there will be waves of training based on safety, equipment and individual departments.

One aspect of the building that may take some time to get used to is the elbow room — wide corridors, spacious operating theatres, walls separating beds instead of curtains.

“In the current space (existing hospital), you can see, hear and smell for assessment,” said Short.

“You come over here and you have to change the way we do business.”

To overcome the challenges that come with 231,000-square-feet, technology has been introduced to improve communication between staff.

“You can do things in one room and speak to someone in another room,” said Short of the four operating theatres.

Cameras above the operating table can project images on to plasma screens right in the room or in another part of the building.

Technology is also being used to create efficiencies.

Among the advances are equipment booms in the trauma rooms in the emergency department.

“There is power and nurse call systems off of it and you can have computers on it,” said Short.

But more basic approaches have also been implemented.

For patients in the intensive care unit, giant windows provide glimpses of Polson Park and the rest of Vernon.

“You can see life in our community,” said Short.

A scene of Kekuli Bay can be found outside of one window in the women’s and children’s department. It hides an ugly air handling unit.

“It makes it more appealing to the patient staying in that room,” said Short.

Short’s pride and joy is the women’s and children’s department.

“I was born in Vernon. I have huge ties to this unit,” said the department’s former nursing manager.

Labour, delivery and post-partum will now occur in each of the seven rooms reserved for new moms,

“We won’t be moving families around,” said Short, pointing out the bed, couches and a washroom with both a shower and bath tub.

The department also includes a special care nursery, pediatrics and a room with a couch for families who stay overnight to be close to their children.

Elevators connect the five floors in the tower, as does a glass stairway with views of Vernon.

“The staff say it’s an excellent place to come and exercise,” said Short.

Timelines are tight leading up to Sept. 25, but Short is confident that the training will be done and the staff will be ready to welcome the first patients.

“There’s no option. Everyone will be ready for that date,” she said.