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What is Operational Readiness?

Toronto, August 7, 2018

By Selma Al-Samarrai

Annie Gravely and her team of high school students worked closely with Dr. Jane Batt, scientist at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science.
Director of Operational Readiness, Margaret Moy Lum-Kwong has worked closely with the Respirology Unit’s Director, Joyce Fenuta as they prepare for the unit’s future move into the Peter Gilgan Tower. (Photo by Katie Cooper)

St. Michael’s Hospital is embarking on a massive redevelopment project named St. Michael’s 3.0 which includes the construction of a new 17-storey patient care tower at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets, to be named the Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower (PGT). The 3.0 project will also give St. Michael’s a renovated Emergency Department and significant space and technological upgrades inside the existing hospital space.

A project of this size and scope is impacting dozens of units and departments across the hospital that will be moving into brand new care spaces. Behind the scenes, there is one team working collaboratively with all key stakeholders across the hospital to ensure the planning and preparation for the moves and overall change is a one-stop shop turnkey process. The team is intuitively called Operational Readiness and we talked to its director, Margaret Moy Lum-Kwong, about how they are helping St. Michael’s get ready for this exciting new chapter in its history of providing care in Toronto.

What is the role of Operational Readiness within health care?

Operational readiness is focused on the right people, in the right places, at the right time, working on the right equipment, technologies and procedures.

We do this through assessing operations and workflow design in order to ensure a proper environment that is fit for its purpose, and proactively getting the transition areas and people ready so these moves are safe and effective. Getting people ready means getting staff and physicians familiarized, oriented and thoroughly prepared for changes in space, workflow, processes, technology and equipment.

How has the Operational Readiness team contributed to the St. Michael’s 3.0 project?

The St. Michael’s 3.0 redevelopment project is a large scale, complex capital project on a tight urban site. The massive scope of the project includes building and moving into the new Peter Gilgan Tower (PGT), the demolition of the 17-storey Cardinal Carter South stairwell, the demolition of the Shuter wing, and safely moving patients throughout to ensure continuous patient care, and introducing new technologies and equipment across the entire hospital.

All of this is happening while St. Michael’s Hospital remains fully operational and maintains the delivery of safe, undisrupted and high-quality patient care.

Can you provide a few specific examples of how Operational Readiness is contributing to the upcoming opening of the PGT?

Everything we do in Operational Readiness contributes to a safe and effective transition of clinical programs and units to new or redeveloped spaces or processes, whether it is before, during and post transitions.

With the St. Michaels’ 3.0 Project, Operational Readiness planning starts with assessing the readiness of the unit’s team, operations, and workflow design, and determining the order of the phased moves of units into PGT – the when and who and how. Comprehensive move plans, including hour-by-hour guides, are developed as well as orientation and training tools for each unit and for staff across the hospital. The Operational Readiness team will also provide post-move support to every unit moving into the PGT.

For the moves involving the Emergency Department, the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit and the Operating Rooms, Operational Readiness efforts include simulations of real-life scenarios to be conducted in the new space as a test and practise to see how the team works in the new environment.

A key element of SMH 3.0 is patient safety and the standardization of systems to support it. That includes a unified nurse call system, one centralized wandering patient safety system and one fire safety system. We are working closely with numerous units including the Clinical Informatics and IT teams to co-ordinate the replacement of these systems, and working with units to guide and support staff training in these new systems. To date, the retrofit of these systems has been completed in all the ambulatory areas and work has begun on the inpatient units.


The first two units to move into the new Peter Gilgan Tower are the Respirology Unit and the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU.) The Respirology Unit’s director, Joyce Fenuta, has worked closely with the Operational Readiness team. We asked Joyce how the Operational Readiness team has helped her with the first of her three units that will eventually be located in the new tower prepare for the upcoming move.

The Operational Readiness team has been an invaluable resource, right from the director to the champion. They have been really supportive and collaborative with our teams and they’ve presented a very appropriate balance of both supporting and challenging our teams. They ask the difficult questions like, ‘do you really need that?’ but are also a strong advocate for what we want and consider important for our unit.

They’ve also really helped organize us. They’ve asked how will our work flow change? How will our communication change? How will we orient patients to our new space? How do we organize ourselves on the actual move day? They have helped tailor all of our answers and plans to the new layout of the unit and to the needs of the patient population that we’re serving.

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 more than 29 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.


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