Premier Doug Ford
​"This new tower will help provide modern and high-quality care to the more than 450,000 people who visit Toronto Western Hospital each year," Premier Doug Ford said on Tuesday, Feb. 6 as he announced the Ontario Government's investment toward the $1 billion project. (Photo: UHN)

UHN is celebrating an incredible investment by the Government of Ontario to construct a new $1 billion patient and surgical tower at Toronto Western Hospital.

This transformative project is set to significantly enhance health care infrastructure, augment provincial bed capacity and further elevate the patient experience.

"This new tower will help provide modern and high-quality care to the more than 450,000 people who visit Toronto Western Hospital each year," Premier Doug Ford said at the announcement in the BMO Conference Centre on Tuesday, Feb. 6. "In Toronto, and right across the province, our government is making historic investments for a stronger health care system, with more doctors and nurses, more beds and shorter wait times.

"We're bringing convenient care closer to home for more people."

The new 15-storey tower, strategically located to optimize space on the current Toronto Western campus on Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto, will add 82 patient beds, including new critical care beds, and 20 state-of-the-art operating rooms (ORs) to Ontario's health care system.

The tower's integrated design is driven under the leadership of DIALOG, the prime architecture and design consultant, and incorporates insights from diverse stakeholders, including surgeons, nurses, patients, clinical managers, UHN Environmental Services, the Indigenous Health Program, digital infrastructure teams, pharmacists, and UHN Infection Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Medicine Program and medical imaging specialists.

"Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is making record investment in hospital infrastructure, expanding hospital capacity across the province, with shovels in the ground for over 50 new projects to connect people to the care they need, when they need it," Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, told the audience, which included members of TeamUHN who contributed to design decisions.

"Working with partners like University Health Network to build the new patient and surgical tower at Toronto Western Hospital is yet another step our government is taking to ensure patients can access world class, convenient care, for years to come," she said.

UHN is Canada's No. 1 hospital and the world's No. 1 publicly funded hospital, with nine sites and more than 18,500 staff. Toronto Western site acts as a community hospital as well as teaching hospital that receives patients from around the province.

Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN's President & CEO, called the announcement a "remarkable investment."

"UHN's Toronto Western Hospital has served Toronto and, increasingly, the province, for more than 100 years," he said. "Our surgical teams perform some of the most advanced surgical procedures to treat the most complex patients.

"We're incredibly grateful to the Government of Ontario for this remarkable investment, which will help UHN enhance our pioneering work particularly in caring for complex neurological and orthopedic cases from across the province."

Pam Hubley, Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive at UHN, spoke about the tower's impact on nursing.

"Not only will there be improved patient flows and clinical workflows, we'll be able to unlock new opportunities for UHN nurses to become global leaders in exceptional care, education and research." she said.

(L to R), Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, Doug Farley, Premier Doug Ford, Donald K. Johnson, member of the Board of Directors of UHN Foundation, Julie Quenneville, CEO of UHN Foundation, Raj Kothari, Chair of the Board of Directors of UHN Foundation, Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Barbara Muir, member of the Board of Directors of UHN Foundation. (Photo: UHN)

The project, located on the southeast corner of Bathurst and Nassau Sts., replacing a surface parking lot, was given a planning grant by the Ontario Government in April 2022. Groundbreaking is expected in May 2024, with the new patient and surgical tower expected to be operational in 2028.

To enable the start of construction, the hospital's Nassau St. entrance and parking lot will be closed as of 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9 and remain closed for the duration of construction.

The existing Toronto Western Hospital building, with its current suite of ORs, is 100 years old. Though safe, the ORs are outdated. The 20 new ORs will include three with ensuite medical imaging equipment for complex neurosurgical and spinal procedures. The working environment for TeamUHN will also improve, there will be digital infrastructure to support surgery robots and other technological advancements.

Combined with existing surgical capacity, the new operating rooms will provide another tangible response to address surgical backlog in Ontario. And, the new tower will offer opportunities for nurses and other health professionals to develop additional new specialities for career growth.

The new tower will also include 82 private rooms with washrooms, natural light, ample space for multiple visitors and features to enable cultural healing practices. Private patient rooms are consistent with current design standards and support enhanced infection control and faster patient recovery.

UHN has taken additional steps to ensure flexibility with the room design to easily respond and future-proof against events such as another pandemic.

There will be other improved amenities for family members and other visitors, multiple areas for staff and family respite, and underground visitor parking stalls for more than 80 vehicles.

"The surgical teams have been diligent in providing input on the design of the new operating rooms," says Dr. Tom Forbes, UHN's Surgeon-in-Chief. "But they have also provided valuable insights for the design of family waiting areas.

"They see first-hand the impacts of limited quiet space for waiting family members."

The Kensington community around the Toronto Western campus has provided valuable feedback, and UHN will continue engaging and collaborating with its neighbours throughout the construction process.

"We understand the importance of minimizing disruption during construction, and we are committed to ensuring a seamless experience for patients, staff, and the community," says Rebecca Repa, UHN's Executive Vice President Clinical Support and Performance. "This investment in the health care system is also an investment in the neighbouring community and the people who work at Toronto Western.

"We are eager to get shovels in the ground and start to build for the future."

(L to R), Pam Hubley, Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive at UHN, and Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, chat with Premier Doug Ford after the announcement. (Photo: UHN)

Quick facts

  • UHN assessed renovation versus new build and determined a renovation would be more expensive and still have limitations
  • New tower optimizes use of campus; requires no additional land acquisition
  • Design methodology reduced overall timeline for completion by a year
  • Province of Ontario gave a planning grant in April 2022
  • Groundbreaking is expected in May 2024
  • Tower is expected to be operational in 2028
  • UHN has worked closely with the City of Toronto throughout expedited process
  • EllisDon is the construction manager, chosen after a competitive process
  • DIALOG is the architectural designer, chosen after a rigorous process in part because of their commitment to using built form to support and improve the well-being of communities and the environment
  • Landscaping and other streetscape features will offer more calming and welcoming experience for everyone arriving at hospital as well as passersby

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