December 7, 2021
The new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital features 11 operating room suites (ORs), including two ORs supported by the Alberta Surgical initiative and a dedicated obstetrical OR in the maternity unit. A state-of-the-art cancer centre features two radiation vaults, making Grande Prairie the fifth centre in Alberta — and the first in AHS North Zone — to offer radiation therapy. Photo by Sarah Blake.
The first baby born at Grande Prairie Regional Hospital is Ezekiel Axel Wiebe, shown here with his mom Mary. Photo by Francis Silvaggio.
EMS Crews from every Zone in the province volunteered to work overtime helping to move patients from the QEII to the new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital. Photo by Sarah Blake.
The specialized Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Transport team prepares to move the last patient from the QEII, little Addison Keddy. Photo by Sarah Blake.
Story by Sara Blake | Photos by Sara Blake & Francis Silvaggio
The long-awaited new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital is now open for patient care. The emergency department (ED) at the new facility opened its doors at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, when the ED at the former Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Hospital closed to the public.
At the same time, inpatients at the QEII Hospital started moving to the new hospital in a variety of EMS transport vehicles, including eight traditional ambulances, two critical care units, one neonatal intensive care (NICU) ambulance, a 12-metre multi-patient EMS bus, four non-urgent transport units, and a recreation therapy bus.
In the span of 11 hours, a total of 99 patients were relocated to the new hospital. The first patient left the QEII at 6:45 a.m. and the last departed at 4:50 p.m. In all, the move involved 1,192 AHS staff members along with 24 physicians and 95 volunteers.
The move finished ahead of schedule and involved fewer patients than anticipated. This was thanks to a variety of factors including extensive pre-planning, enthusiastic cooperation and collaboration across the various teams involved, as well as a little good luck.
“There was a bit of a bittersweet feeling over at the QEII on move day,” says Stacy Greening, senior operating officer for Grande Prairie.
“We all had a moment after the last patient had moved to reflect on what that site has been and meant to the community, and what we’ve accomplished with the move to the new hospital. Here at GPRH, the shift throughout the facility has been palpable. A hospital is just a building until there are people in it. To see the patients and the staff here now in all of the hustle and bustle — the site has really come alive.”
The new hospital is purposely designed with the patient and family experience in mind. All inpatient care spaces throughout the facility are private, individual rooms. Each room also offers a fold-out sleep space for a family member or designated support person. Expectant mothers are able to spend their entire stay in one room where they will labour, deliver and recover with their newborn, rather than relocate to a different unit.
New beginnings framed the move in more ways than one.
The first patient at GPRH — baby Hudson Packard — was also the last baby to be born at the QEII. Meanwhile, leaving the QEII at 4:50 p.m., little NICU patient Addison Keddy was the final patient to depart from the former hospital.
The GPRH then welcomed Ezekiel Wiebe at 7:35 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5 — the first baby to be born at the new facility. Mom Mary Wiebe says baby Ezekiel was due in November, but waited to make a grand entry.
“He took me literally when I said — ‘Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I gave birth in the new hospital?’ — and sure enough, here we are,” adds the Gordondale mother of three. “He had a plan in place. Now that he’s here and we’ve been able to experience the new hospital, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve also delivered in the old hospital and this is a big upgrade.”
Grande Prairie Regional Hospital features 11 operating room suites (ORs), including two ORs supported by the Alberta Surgical initiative and a dedicated obstetrical OR in the maternity unit.
A state-of-the-art cancer centre features two radiation vaults, making Grande Prairie the fifth centre in Alberta — and the first in AHS North Zone — to offer radiation therapy.
The building also includes a 4,000-square-metre space, in partnership with Grande Prairie Regional College, for the education of future nurses and other healthcare professionals.
“We are proud to be offering expanded healthcare services in this beautiful, modern setting,” says AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu. “I’d like to offer my gratitude to all our teams who worked hard to commission this new facility and move in during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful for your perseverance and dedication.”
While the QEII remains open for some ambulatory healthcare services — including dialysis, community-based rehabilitation services and Mackenzie Place continuing care — all acute or inpatient clinical services are now being provided at the new hospital. Acute care units at the QEII are now closed.
The QEII Laboratory is also closed for outpatient blood collections. Anyone who requires laboratory services is encouraged to visit Alberta Precision Laboratories’ community collection sites at Junction Point or Grande Prairie College & Community Health Centre. For more information on lab hours, locations, and to book an appointment, visit albertaprecisionlabs.ca.
Health screening, masking and all other existing COVID-19 protocols are in place at the new hospital, as they continue to be at all other healthcare facilities. Individuals are asked not to go to the new hospital unless they are in need of medical care or visiting a patient.