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2011 Success Stories > Foothills ICU’s design named among best in the world

Foothills ICU’s design named among best in the world

November 29, 2011

International body recognizes unit’s emphasis on patient- and family-focused care

Story by Colin Zak, Photo by Paul Rotzinger

When Caroline Wilson’s father was in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre this past June, she says privacy suddenly became a lot more important.

Wilson’s father spent three days at the Foothills ICU following complications from a kidney transplant. She says the large private rooms in the ICU gave her family the extra space they needed.

“When your loved one is critically ill and you’re not really sure what’s going to happen, privacy suddenly becomes very important,” Wilson says. “It gives you space to say the things you want to say without the person on the other side of the curtain hearing.” Foothills ICU

The ICU’s patient- and family-focused design has now gained international recognition. The Society of Critical Care Medicine has awarded the new Foothills ICU with its 2012 ICU Design Citation for creating a safe and healing environment for patients and their families. The ICU was selected over entries from across North America and Europe.

“The Foothills Medical Centre ICU has set a new standard in critical care not only in Canada but the world at large,” says Dr. Paul Boiteau, department head of critical care medicine for the Calgary Zone of Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“This is a major accomplishment when it comes to ICU design.”

The 36-bed Foothills ICU, which opened its doors this past April, was honoured for its emphasis on patient- and family-focused care.

Individual patient rooms mean increased privacy for patients and their families, as well as decreased risk of infection. The Foothills ICU also features on-site rehabilitation facilities, multiple family quiet rooms, family kitchens, sleeping areas, and a Wi-Fi network that allows families to communicate with loved ones across the world from the patient’s bedside.


VIDEO: FMC ICU wins award

“We’ve taken a forward-thinking approach to caring for our hospital’s sickest patients,” Boiteau says. “Family members play a key role in recovery; that’s why we’ve made keeping family at the bedside the guiding principle of the design.”

The ICU cares for more than 1,200 patients each year. It is located at Foothills’ McCaig Tower, a provincially funded, $550-million acute care facility and is part of AHS’s commitment to delivering world-class critical care to southern Albertans.

“The concepts and principles used in the design were developed with input from Calgary critical care physicians, staff, patients and family members and are now part of our standards when building critical care capacity in Calgary,” says Caroline Hatcher, executive director of critical care at Foothills. “It was a true regional collaboration with our planners and architects.”

The Society of Critical Care Medicine has nearly 16,000 members, representing all members of the critical care team, in more than 100 countries.