When then-Ottawa Mayor Harold Fisher championed the construction of the Ottawa Civic Hospital following the 1918 flu pandemic, he faced scrutiny, with some going as far as calling the project “Fisher’s Folly.”
The proposed location was, at the time, a farmer’s field, after all. But once the doors opened in 1924, the Civic soon became indispensable to Ottawa residents. It filled the gap laid painfully bare by the flu pandemic and modernized local healthcare, bringing it into the 20th century. Indeed, it wasn’t long until the Civic became better known as “Fisher’s Foresight”.
Nearly 100 years later, Ottawa is at a similar crossroads.
That’s why The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) has launched the Campaign to Create Tomorrow, an unprecedented $500-million fundraising campaign to go along with $2.1 billion in provincial funding. The campaign aims to once again change the way the city – and the world – delivers health care.
The new Ottawa Hospital: Four critical pillars
The Campaign to Create Tomorrow rests on four main pillars: building a world-class health and research hospital; facilitating more groundbreaking research; encouraging cutting-edge innovation; and strengthening critical services.
“What’s happening at the hospital isn’t always visible to the wider community, but it’s not just a place to go when you or your family are sick,” explains TOH Foundation board chair and campaign committee member Michael Runia. “We need a facility to reflect the industry-leading research at The Ottawa Hospital.”
The new hospital campus
The $2.8-billion, 2.5-million-square-foot facility will incorporate sustainable design principles and a rooftop helipad with direct access to the Trauma Centre (a huge improvement from wheeling patients across Carling Avenue from the current helipad to the hospital). Separate entrances for in-patient, acute care and out-patient appointments will ease congestion and conform to the latest pandemic mitigation standards.
From a local economic perspective, Deloitte’s recent economic contribution report says the facility will generate $1.24 billion in annual labour income via 4,030 full-time equivalents (FTEs).
Meanwhile, more than 60,000 patients every year will benefit from single rooms with smart in-room digital screens, allowing patients to order a meal or fill a prescription, communicate with their care team, and stay connected to loved ones.
With collaborations in 25 countries, 47 active patent families, nine spin-off companies, and more than 2,000 research papers published each year – not to mention hundreds of clinical trials – TOH is already one of Canada’s leading research hospitals.
Indeed, TOH has developed some of the world’s most popular methods for reducing unnecessary procedures, including the Canadian CT Head Rule, the Wells Rule for pulmonary embolism, and the Canadian C-spine Rule.
Runia says the new facility will take this established track record to the next level by attracting the next generation of health-care talent to the city.
“For any local employer, the ability to attract that calibre of talent, knowing you have a facility like this down the street, means something.”
Strengthening critical services
The campaign will further expand TOH’s suite of critical services, from trauma care to neuroscience expertise, to the latest cancer treatments and complex surgeries.
“You just need to look at the fact that we’re the only trauma centre in the region,” explains TOH Foundation president and CEO Tim Kluke. “The transformation that’s going to happen to trauma in particular and how patients will be able to quickly access the facility – along with creating a neuroscience institute – are good examples of how this will directly impact the community and the region.”
Innovation and technology
Outstanding clinical care and research are only possible alongside cutting-edge technology, says Kluke.
The campaign will build on what’s already one of the most advanced health-care data analytics platforms in Canada, along with other technology innovations, including a Virtual Healthcare Hub to ensure all but the most critically ill are treated outside a hospital setting.
“We have the opportunity to create one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the country,” Kluke says. “We’re not just building a new facility and moving the beds down the street. We’re building a whole different environment, both from a patient perspective and a research perspective.”
Shaping the city’s future
But while the campaign has already raised more than $200 million, including a $25-million donation from The Minto Group shareholders, Kluke acknowledges there’s still a long way to go.
“Here we are as a community, nearly 100 years after Fisher’s Foresight, about to embark on the most significant and important health-care investment in our lifetime,” he says. “The size and scope and reach of this project and how it will change health care will be significant. For the residents of Ottawa, it’s a really incredible time and opportunity to shape the future of the city. It’s a cornerstone project.”