Story & photo by Sharman Hnatiuk
EDMONTON — Melissa Eastcott couldn’t wait to share in the excitement when moving day finally arrived for patients and families in the Stollery Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PCICU) on Dec. 12.
Her son, Callen Spooner, has already required several stays in the PCICU as part of his healthcare journey. The three-and-a-half-year-old lives with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect in which the aorta and left ventricle of the heart are severely underdeveloped and cannot pump blood properly.
“The old space was very dark,” says Eastcott. “We’re very excited for windows, the private rooms and the pull-out beds. It will make being closer to my son easier and our stay here much more comfortable.”
The new PCICU — located on the sixth floor of the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute — was funded with $15.1 million from Alberta Infrastructure and $1 million from the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. Above and beyond the $16.1 million dedicated to its redevelopment, the foundation contributed a $2.1 million more for equipment and patient- and family-friendly improvements to the unit.
Families participated in every step of the planning and design of the new unit — an intensive care space that will improve the healthcare journey for more than 500 patients a year.
One of four parents who have contributed to the family voice on the Stollery PCICU redevelopment committee, Kevin George provided insight on designs and shared in the feedback from the Stollery Patient-and Family-Centred Care advisory councils.
“My role is to advocate for families and help design a space that is as inclusive as possible,” says George. “The lack of privacy on the open-floor critical care units has been one of the most common complaints from families. The new single-patient rooms will help create privacy, but the unit’s design featuring family areas will still allow parents and caregivers to connect in spaces specific to PCICU families.”
Whereas the Stollery unit had 12 beds located in one large area, the new PCICU has 16 beds, each located in single-patient rooms that offer more privacy and sufficient space for family members to comfortably sleep overnight.
“By moving to single-patient rooms, we can enhance infection-control measures, improve sleep patterns for patients and create privacy for families,” says Dr. Dominic Cave, Medical Director of the Stollery PCICU. “Children healing is a team activity, and having families present and comfortable at the bedside is vital to the best possible outcomes for our patients.”
The Stollery, recognized nationally and internationally for its pediatric cardiac care, plays a critical role in the Western Canadian Children’s Heart Network. The redeveloped PCICU will also help staff, physicians and surgeons maintain this excellence in the delivery of their care.
The new PCICU represents the first of three phases of a $65.7-million redevelopment and expansion of critical care at the Stollery. The next phases will involve improvements to the Stollery pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), both scheduled for completion in 2020. The Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation is contributing a total of $5.5 million to all three phases of the redevelopment.