March 26, 2013

New health campus focused on wellness

Calgary Herald

Construction of the massive first phase of the South Health Campus – now occupied and to be fully functional by September – was begun in 2007, but the design began in the fall of 2005.

Last week, I enjoyed a tour led by representatives of Alberta Health Services and Kasian Architecture who spent many hours with an advisory team made up of patients, family members, citizens from surrounding communities and staff as to how the campus should be designed and operated.

The result has redefined the way health care is delivered by integrating leading technology, research and education with unique healing environments and progressive environmental design.

South Health Campus is a Wellness Centre; much more than a place to heal illness and disease.

Living in the northwest, I am quite familiar with the Foothills Hospital so it’s little wonder my first impression of the new facility was one of accessibility and space.

However, Pat McInenly, director of facilities, maintenance and engineering at SHC, reminded me the Foothills was built in the 1960s and much has improved since then.

Kasian partners Oliver San Agustin and Ken Chiang – who was with AHS at the time – and senior associate Guy Pocock also led the design team that, along with Ellis-Don and consultants, built the impressive Alberta Children’s Hospital. EllisDon and most of the same construction group were also engaged to build SHC and they met very early on to define the programs that set out where to start digging on the 44-acre site (as big as Chinook Centre) to where to place the electrical outlets and everything in-between.

I appreciated being able to park in one of the 1,400 underground parking stalls, leave my coat in the car and easily find my way into the very open Main Street reception area that includes a soup and sandwich shop at a large eating/gathering space, and will soon welcome a Good Earth location as well as a large Compass Group restaurant.
In-patients are cared for in single rooms, each equipped with a bed for a family member and a remote-controlled patient lift .

The rooms all have outdoor views as do the waiting rooms on each wing where family members have the use of a kitchen area.

With wellness as a focus, AHS has partnered with the YMCA and University of Calgary to provide a place where people can go to find information, programs and services on how to best navigate their health care journey.

The relationship with the YMCA is a first for Canada. The idea is to help patients get well and keep well. A walking track, fitness centre, strength and conditioning, mind and body classes, even a climbing wall are amenities for the community as well as patients, who also have the use of a health library and wellness kitchen.

South Health Campus really does give the feeling of being very well thought out and well-organized to already have some 1,900 staff and 250 volunteers in place serving patients and public. It was a gargantuan task for Kasian, EllisDon and the 1,600 crew to have it open on time and offer Calgary a world-class health-care facility.

Co-chairs Robert Bourne and Cynthia Scheible are volunteering their time and expertise again in helping to demystify the justice system at the 31st annual Law Day.

Bourne is a regulatory counsel at Enbridge Energy who has co-chaired the event for the past two years and Scheible, who specializes in family law with Wise Scheible Barkauskas, has volunteered with Law Day since 2004.
Held this year at the Calgary Courts Centre on April 13, Law Day will be a free, family-friendly event promoting access to justice, introducing to the general public the key participants in the system including members of the police service, lawyers and judges.