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Collingwood hospital switching to a metal throne with copper-coated toilet seats

Hospital planning to renovate and upgrade 58 patient rooms next year with engineered infection control technology.

The patient rooms at the Collingwood hospital are faded, cracked, and worn out.

The last renovation was in the 1950s. Since then, the rooms have had a coat of paint or two to refresh the fleshy-pink walls, but that doesn’t hide the various plaster cracks and chips or the scratched floors. In one room, there’s a large hole in the wall behind the bed.

Jory Pritchard-Kerr, executive director of the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH) Foundation called the state of the rooms “sad.” But she’s in the business of improving the quality of the hospital facilities, and that’s why the foundation has put the wheels in motion to raise $1 million for in-patient room upgrades that will not only brighten up the tired rooms, but will also improve infection control with new innovations in technology.

Pritchard-Kerr said the room upgrades can’t wait for the new building, and the work will be important to make the hospital safer for patients for the next eight to ten years while the hospital and province work through the redevelopment process toward a new hospital.

“We can’t make the rooms any bigger and we can’t make more of them, but if we can make them safer, that’s important,” said Pritchard-Kerr.

The upgrades will include new paint and repairs to the floors where necessary, but they will also include cutting edge equipment designed to control infection rates.

The walls will be equipped with white plastic cladding for the bottom four feet of the room. This will prevent damage to the walls and it can be cleaned to a higher standard than a painted plaster wall.

Each patient room also includes a bathroom. The new upgrades include a UV light for the bathroom that will kill microorganisms in the room within five seconds, and will work between uses to prevent the spread of infection. Each bathroom will also receive a new sink that is equipped with an ozonator. Ozone acts as an oxidizer in water, which helps break down and kill pathogens and bacteria without being harmful to the skin. The drain in the sink will also be offset to eliminate splash back from the drain where bacteria could possibly live. The sink will self-clean and disinfect itself regularly.

The CGMH installed these sinks in the Emergency Room a few years ago when that area of the hospital underwent renovation. The C-Difficile rate is now the lowest it’s been in six years. According to Pritchard-Kerr, the hospital is aiming to bring the rate down even further, and the new technology should help with that. 

“It’s engineered infection control,” she said.

There’s further engineering in the new toilet seats being ordered for in-patient rooms. The seats will be coated in copper, which is known as an inhospitable environment for any living organism.

Finally the hospital will be purchasing a pair of Mobile Room Sterilizers, which are UV light units that can be wheeled into a patient room and controlled remotely to use powerful UV light to sterilize any room such as an elevator, a patient room, a kitchen, or an operating theatre.

Currently, housekeepers must undertake what’s called a “terminal clean” in a room where a patient with a highly-contagious illness has stayed. That takes approximately two hours and two staff. The new UV technology and plastic-clad walls would reduce that time to 20 minutes.

The hospital room upgrades will include a full replacement of the entertainment systems in the rooms, including new televisions, phones, and WiFi.

According to Pritchard-Kerr there have been studies that show a clean and bright, renovated hospital room, also has a positive impact on the way a patient views his or her overall care at the hospital, including staff interactions, food, and quality of care.

“The evidence is there to show that people who are cared for in nice environments heal better,” said Pritchard-Kerr.

This technology – some of which is already installed in the Emergency Room – puts CGMH on the cutting edge of infection control innovation. This spring, Pritchard-Kerr and her team took a delegation from Japan on a tour of the facility to explain the new technology. The delegation included Japan’s head of infection control for the country.

Dr. Mark Quigg is the CGMH medical lead for Infection Prevention and Control, and said the upgrades could also reduce the amount of time a patient that comes through the Emergency Department has to wait for a room.

“I know how important this investment will be for our patients,” said Dr. Quigg. “We can’t just wait for a new building to access technology we know will work today. It’s all about patient safety.”

According to Pritchard-Kerr, all the upgrades are expected to last the remainder of the life of the current CGMH building.

The project will cost a total of $1 million and will include upgrades for 58 patient rooms at the hospital. All renovations will be completed by the hospital’s existing Facilities Department staff.

Pritchard-Kerr and her team hope to raise the money by the end of the year. They are doing so through two fundraising projects including the Everest Challenge and the Tree of Life Campaign.

The Everest Challenge takes place on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Blue Mountain. The premise is that it would take 40 trips up Blue Mountain to equal one trip to the summit of Mount Everest. The event encourages teams to sign up and make the climb together for a group total of 40 times up the mountain and down the gondola.

The Tree of Life Campaign is the annual Christmas fundraiser arranged by the hospital foundation. The foundation reaches out to past donors to ask for a donation each year around Christmas time and the funds are designated for different projects each year. This year, they will be designated to the room upgrades.

Pritchard-Kerr said work will begin on the rooms in January and will take about a year as the facility staff will be working around patients and renovating rooms as they become available.

You can donate to this or other hospital foundation projects online here.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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