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New emergency department and trauma centre will save lives

Dr. Guy Hébert, the Head and Chair of Emergency Medicine at The Ottawa Hospital.

“The time to act is now.”

By Dr. Guy Hébert

When a patient with a severe injury arrives in the hospital’s trauma unit, a team of more than 20 highly skilled physicians and nurses swoop in to care for them with expertise and precision.

Today, we do this at the Civic campus in a room half the size of modern standards, in an emergency department that sees one-and-a-half times as many patients every year as it was designed for.

The Civic Emergency Department was renovated in 2003, designed to treat 60,000 patients a year. Today, we treat more than 90,000 patients a year. As our population grows and ages, we project that by 2030, we will need to treat more than 120,000 patients a year.

Our new, modern hospital will have an emergency department built to accommodate more than 135,000 patients a year. Its design will help our team work efficiently, and will prioritize patient safety, comfort and privacy. Rooms will be separated by walls instead of curtains, and better ventilation systems will minimize the spread of communicable diseases.

For trauma and stroke patients, every second counts. In severe cases, we have the narrowest window of opportunity to intervene to save a life. We call this the golden hour, the narrow window of time to perform life-saving interventions, after which there is an exponentially higher risk of death or permanent disability.

New, spacious trauma bays will allow our teams to move around more easily and work more effectively. Our world-class team will have state-of-the-art equipment, with diagnostic imaging facilities like CT scanners and X-rays inside the Emergency Department itself so that patients can quickly get the care they need.

This pandemic has taken an incredible toll on our community – especially our frontline workers – and has served to unravel the limitations and challenges of our aging and overcrowded Civic Campus. Our talented and dedicated team members spend their days providing world-class, lifesaving care in a building that was well past its prime before COVID.

The time to act is now. We need to move forward and build the modern hospital that Ottawa deserves so that we can keep caring for our community, continue attracting the best and brightest clinicians and trainees, and continue our strong legacy of research and innovation.

It’s time to lay the groundwork for the future of health care in Eastern Ontario – so that we are always ready for the next emergency.

Dr. Guy Hébert is the Head and Chair of Emergency Medicine at The Ottawa Hospital, and is a Trauma Lead in Eastern Ontario’s only Level 1 Trauma Centre at The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus.