McMaster Children’s Hospital (“MCH”) is one of the top pediatric academic health science centres in Canada and serves the special and unique healthcare needs of children using a family-centred model of care. Each year, MCH has approximately 180,000 visits to subspecialty clinics, diagnostic areas, emergency department, inpatient units and operating rooms. McMaster Children’s Hospital recognizes that children’s health needs are unique and that the development of optimum health in childhood can prevent other conditions of poor health later in life. The existing Emergency at MCH was originally designed for both adults and children, was overcrowded (the number of patient visits has more than doubled in the past three years to 30,000 visits), and had few appropriate family facilities.
Parkin Architects Limited’s design intent was to make the emergency department a more prominent element on the building exterior, add colour and visual interest to the entry and create a unit which welcomes children and their families. Newly visible from the street, the enlarged Emergency has a large and airy two-storey waiting area that is flooded with natural light, and filled with family- and child-friendly seating areas. Brightly coloured space dividers shaped like city buildings tie into the overall design themes created for the hospital. Interestingly shaped drywall bulkheads and accessible play areas provide distraction for children while maintaining an area easily supervised by nursing staff. The goal of the redevelopment, which was to allow the Emergency Department to expedite patient flows, overcome operational bottle necks and improve intra-departmental flows to Diagnostic Imaging, PICU, inpatient units and operating rooms, has been achieved. In addition, a new Sub-acute Rapid Assessment Unit allows effective streaming of patients into the appropriate care environments, thus improving staff efficiencies and providing appropriate care for children, in a timely manner. New child-friendly trauma and treatment rooms, additional workspace for staff and modern facilities for the emergency treatment of children are all part of the conversion of the Emergency to a modern, children-only facility.