Kingston General Hospital

Serving the Kingston community for over 100 years

Kingston, Ontario was the original capital of the Province of Canada back in 1841—and the limestone buildings located on the shores of Lake Ontario are a testament to the city’s age and rich heritage.

Nestled in the heart of downtown Kingston, flanked by a combination of new and old architecture is Kingston General Hospital (KGH)—another establishment whose age is over 100 years.

A hospital with such a long history is sure to have faced many challenges, notwithstanding shifts in service and size over the years. KGH is a pillar of the community, being Queen’s University’s teaching hospital (one of Canada’s foremost universities), servicing a core southeastern portion of Ontario and standing alone as the only tertiary referral centre in the region.

The closest tertiary referral hospitals to KGH are in Toronto and Ottawa, so the continued existence of KGH is critical. This is why the hospital looks to continuously improve, to serve the inner regions of Kingston and its city core as well as local municipal areas.

Rebuilding in order to improve patient service has become a core focus for KGH over the last couple of years. The hospital has been undergoing a massive redevelopment project in parallel with its new five-year strategy incepted just last month. The strategy is to “move to a position of strength and influence among Canada’s acute-care teaching and research hospitals”.

Concentration on redevelopment certainly attests to the hospital’s intention to move to a position of strength. More than 2,000 internal and external stakeholders participated in the consultation process that informed this new strategy which positions KGH “as a patient-centred, dynamic research hospital and leader in inter-professional practice and education”.

The project—Kidd 9 and 10

In the multi-million redevelopment project, KGH has already seen many impressive milestones reached. The entire project will include an additional 170,000 square feet of space and the renovation of another 143,000 square feet of the hospital.

The first of its seven major projects KGH intends to finish was completed in December 2009—this milestone was the opening of the new inpatient pediatric unit located on the new Kidd 10.

KGH’s new 25-bed unit features all private rooms, a new six-bed critical care unit, new rehabilitation space and is 34 per cent larger than its previous space in the Bawden wing.

A floor below, the redeveloped Kidd 9 welcomed its first patients in early March 2010. The 18,000-square foot space has 32 beds for medicine and inpatient oncology patients. The unit includes six positive pressure rooms for immuno-compromised patients—those patients who are very susceptible to infection, typically because they have low numbers of, or no white blood cells as a result of chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation. This unit also features nursing stations for the patients and an area for physiotherapy. There is also a family lounge area as well as a place to support healthcare education.

Intensive care

It was late April 2010 when the first of three phases of the intensive care unit (ICU) expansion and renovation were completed. Patients were moved into the first phase, called ICU West in early May. The unit is in the former Fraser Armstrong Patient Centre (FAPC) and features 16 critical-care bays.

These bays have articulating boom arms (overhead apparatus that hold necessary supports such as gases, power and data), as well as three negative-pressure rooms to prevent contaminated air from escaping to other areas of the ICU. The hospital expects to complete the rest of the ICU phases by 2012. The critical care space will by then have expanded from 21 to 33 beds.

Changes and challenges

One can imagine, in a hospital environment where so much is at stake, there could be many challenges to contend with when doing a major redevelopment. But according to Vice President of Planning Ted Darby, whose office oversees the redevelopment project, the responses to the changes have been positive. “The overwhelming response from both patients and staff is just how light, bright and spacious the new areas are,” he says.

However, this doesn’t mean that the entire process has been a cinch. Hospital construction can be hard on patients and the people who are meant to care for them. “It’s definitely been a challenge,” Darby says. “It’s really disruptive for people to have construction going on all around them. The moment you penetrate the building envelope, you are at risk for issues like that. There are a lot of challenges with construction of this nature which makes it a very, very complex project to manage,” he continues. Everyone remains optimistic considering the pace at which the projects are progressing.

With three of the seven redevelopment projects complete, KGH is focused on the remaining four which Darby says are on track.

The renovation and expansion of the intensive care unit is well under way. “This is a multi-staged renovation because we have to keep the unit functioning while we are renovating. We have to do a piece at a time,” he adds.

Work continues elsewhere on three additional floors, including a 45-bed inpatient mental health unit that is transferring from Hotel Dieu Hospital. Another floor will house a 40-station in-centre dialysis unit, scheduled to open in November 2010.

The Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario at KGH will also see a complete renovation that includes new outpatient clinic space, doubled capacity in the chemotherapy suite and the addition of two new radiation bunkers.

Anticipated success

Things are moving along at KGH. The first phase of the expansion of central processing services, which is a key surgical support responsible for the cleaning and sterilization of hospital instruments and equipment, will open this fall.

Darby assures that KGH is on budget for all the redevelopment projects. He says that although the massive nature of the project puts pressure on the contingency budget, KGH is “under-spending in other areas to offset the challenges. There are many unforeseeable issues that you run into because, despite best efforts, when you get into a major renovation project, there are always surprises.”

Patients can expect a lot from the completed renovations and new structures. The technologies being implemented as part of the redevelopment will surely help KGH position itself as a leader in Canada. For instance, the ICUs feature articulating arms are of the highest technological capacity and new patient areas are designed with state-of-the-art features.

Darby says that overall, success is imminent. He is proud of the progress so far. “We’ve been able to maintain good relationships with contractors, consultants and our staff—and it’s certainly gratifying to see patients when they do occupy the new space, to see how pleased they are with the new environment that they are in.”   
For more information on KGH, visit