Client: St. Paul's Hospital Location: Vancouver, BC Size: 2,153 sf Budget: $1,200,000 Status: Completed in 2020
High Acuity Unit (HAU) Renovation

The HAU at St. Paul’s Hospital is an acute care ward which supports the ICU to accommodate the needs of patients which do not require intensive care, but are not able to recover within a conventional medicine ward. This 6-bed ward plays a vital role in the care and recovery of high-need patients that do not exactly fit within a conventional care model.

Two conditions made this project especially challenging. First was location. The HAU is nestled between the ICU, CICU, NICU and Maternity wards, all of which were fully operational, controlled-access with the most stringent dust control measures employed. Working within this area required strategic planning, multiple building phases and clear and continuous communication with hospital staff to ensure uninterrupted construction on-site.
The second condition was when construction began. Construction started just before the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the Design and Construction team to pivot quickly and adapt to COVID-19 specific OH & S site protocols. Learning and applying new safety measures, adjusting the design to accommodate increased ventilation requirements and adding more construction phases to negotiate a constantly changing landscape of health and safety regulations. The team was able to make adjustments on the fly and move the project towards completion within a reasonable time frame.

Medical gas headwalls were designed for maximum flexibility and ease of maintenance, with large, removable panels for quick and easy access.  The panels are faced with an anti-microbial laminate finish that is extremely durable, easily cleanable and can withstand the most stringent cleaning agents.  Selecting a warm-coloured, wood laminate finish makes the entire space feel less clinical and provides an inviting atmosphere for patients and staff.

Brightly coloured materials and finishes were chosen to help animate and enliven a space that has no windows or access to daylight or views. The use of innovative materials, such as Altro Whiterock, provides a water-proof and colourful shower enclosure, installed by the drywall trade, thus "deskilling" the work by removing the need for a ceramic tile installer. This design solution helped reduce project costs and aided in a faster completion time. Colour is not only used as an aesthetic choice, but an important tool for intuitive demarcation of floor space. The blue and green zones under patient beds creates an identifiable boundary that defines the extents of the working areas. The larger field of light grey flooring denotes open circulation and allows for the coloured floor zones to be easily discernible.

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