Patient Engagement: Making the New Build from Good to Great

Patient testing sink

Margaret Goss participates in a review of the vanity sink in the inpatient room

A cracked femur landed Margaret Goss unexpectedly across the city at West Park Healthcare Centre. In hindsight, in addition to rehabilitation, it was probably fate that brought the spry 85 year-old to West Park – to make an invaluable contribution to the design of the new hospital.

With the new building’s structure complete, West Park is finalizing every detail of every space. During the summer, West Park logged feedback from staff and patients on full-size model of inpatient rooms (mock-ups), which resulted in a review of the vanity sink with Goss’ participation. 

“When I went to look at the patient room, I know you have to consider the doors, windows, wheelchairs, stretchers and beds,” says Goss, whose husband was an engineer on high-profile projects like the SkyDome that made her keenly aware of the details that go into construction projects. 

I think a lot of people put thought into it...a lot of people with brains.”

A major challenge for West Park is refining a design to suit a vast patient population with varying degrees of abilities and the use of varying types of mobility aides. 

Joined by architects and accessibility consultants, Goss tested a modified vanity sink with her manual wheelchair, along with another patient with a power wheelchair. Goss commented the handles of the faucet were too far back. 

A week later after further modifications were made, she was invited to trial the sink again. This time it was a success with both patients able to tuck their legs beneath the sink and able to reach the faucet.

“This is why mock-ups are so important. Though we met accessibility standards and building code requirements, the space needed fine-tuning to meet the needs of our diverse patient population,” says Lecia Fagan, Project Manager of Construction at West Park. “Taking the time to trial it with actual patients ensures we make the new hospital from good to great.”

Engagement Process

Patient, family and staff engagement has been prominent as far back as 2014 when West Park’s project moved into Functional Planning, which describes the space requirements needed to deliver future services to meet the heath care needs of the next generation. 

With the new facility at approximately 730,000 square feet, or three times the current size of Main Building, there are countless spaces that need reviewing. Since there will be 314 beds in the new hospital, considerable attention has been placed on the inpatient rooms. 

Multiple lenses are needed when it comes to designing a healthcare facility including safety, accessibility, efficiency, equipment, patient comfort and infection prevention and control (IPAC).  And sometimes, these perspectives conflict. 

“You have to look at a space as a whole and not just from one perspective, which can be very challenging,” says Fagan, who has coordinated and refined the details for the new facility. 

A single review on a particular item or space can collectively take 30-100 hours between staff, patients, architects and consultants. One can imagine how much time it takes to plan an entire hospital overall.

Since the mock-ups, West Park has also completed numerous reviews from grab bars in the 
inpatient washrooms, headwalls, wall mounted accessories to equipment. 

As for Goss, she is pleased with her care at West Park citing good management and good food. She is determined to remain independent so she can “drive [herself] somewhere” after her stay. 

The former airline and travel agent is also delighted she was able to make a contribution that would benefit future patients at West Park.

“With all the planning that has gone in this hospital, it should be very successful,” says Goss. “But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the people who care for you and the care you get that make it a success.”