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Taking the ramp less travelled

Toronto, January 12, 2016

By Kate Manicom

RN Ramata Tarawally and clinical assistant Alvin Lumbres
A rendering of the new Shuter Wing, which will house the expanded Slaight Family Emergency Department and a dedicated non-emergency patient transfer entrance into the hospital’s lower level. The new wing is expected to be completed in 2019. (Rendering by NORR)

It’s mid-morning in the hospital’s Queen Street entrance and the lobby is buzzing with activity: Information Desk staff and volunteers offer directions, a Wheel-Trans driver calls out for her next pick up, contractors manoeuvre carts of supplies on their way to renovate Donnelly’s upper floors and a non-emergency ambulance attendant weaves a patient on a stretcher through the crowd.

It’s the hospital’s busiest public space, seeing 75 per cent of patient and public traffic, supporting 750,000 ambulatory and diagnostic visits and more than 30,000 surgeries annually. On a daily basis, the Information Desk fields up to 600 inquiries and 50 stretchers pass through the lobby. Next spring, when the Victoria Street entrance closes to make room for an expanded Emergency Department, almost all patient and public traffic will pass through the Queen Street doors.

“The stretchers take up a lot of room in the lobby, which is typically full of people waiting to be picked up or picking up their loved ones,” said Sandra Couto, a team leader for Logistics who is responsible for the hospital’s Information Desks. “And navigating through all of those people can be a real challenge for the attendants.”

However, congestion in this space will soon be eased with the construction of a new, non-emergency patient transfer ramp on Bond Street. When it’s completed in the winter of 2016, private ambulance companies who transport patients between hospitals and other health-care facilities will have a dedicated route into the hospital, providing faster access to and from appointments and better privacy for patients.

Floor plan of hospital with ramp indicated
Floor plan of hospital with ramp indicated. Click here or on the image above for an enlarged version.
“Rerouting ambulance transfer patients is a key strategy to help reduce congestion at Queen Street during St. Michael’s 3.0 redevelopment,” said Michael Keen, senior director of Planning and Development. “The footprint of the lobby decreased slightly when construction hoarding was installed, so with the increase in traffic coming through Queen, this will help patients, families and staff move through the space more efficiently and have more space to wait.”

The new entrance will also help to alleviate vehicle traffic in the Queen Street driveway by diverting ambulances to Bond Street, allowing for more room for Wheel-Trans, taxis and caregivers to drop off and pick up patients.

The last phase of the 3.0 project, slated for completion in late 2019, will see the demolition of Shuter Wing and the construction of a new building in its place. Below the expanded ED, the three-storey structure will include a transfer point for non-emergency ambulances into the hospital’s lower level, protecting patients from poor weather and connecting to dedicated patient transfer elevators. In the meantime, the Bond Street ramp will provide much-needed relief to the bustling Queen Street lobby.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.