For nearly a year, Heather Thiessen has given up a part of her life for her children and her grandchildren. “As a mom, I know how nice it would have been to have a children’s hospital when my kids were small, explains Thiessen, a patient and family representative on the Emergency Department (ED) design team for Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan. “I feel it’s important to make sure this children’s ED is done right the first time from the patient and family perspective. And the same for the adult ED as that is where I end up when I get sick. I want to make sure this design is done with the family in mind.”

The last scheduled integrated design session took place in
September 2012.

Last September, a new phase in the journey in building Saskatchewan’s new maternal and children’s hospital began and Thiessen was a part of that work. Using a new lean methodology tool called 3P (production preparation process) the designs out of that work have resulted in an approved early schematic design for the hospital. Always one to finish what she started, Thiessen has attended every detailed design session that has followed since.

“I want to make sure when a patient arrives at the hospital, they will not get lost in the chaos of triage and the waiting area. I know this can occur, but I feel so confident this is being looked after,” says Thiessen. “Everyone tried so hard to be there to make sure every little detail was looked at. I think Saskatoon will be proud of the work. And, just knowing patients and families were included in the design, will make the pubic rest assured all their needs will be remembered.”

As one of Saskatoon Health Region’s top priorities, the new hospital has involved hundreds of staff, physicians, patient and family representations and administrators working countless hours to navigate through the design phase.

The work has gone beyond talking with the clinical areas and Saskatoon families, to communities around the province. Travelling through northern Saskatchewan in the spring, the team met with more than 200 children from grades 1 to 12 to talk with them about their needs and wants for the hospital and get their design ideas. This dialogue extended to the community in sessions with dozens of people about the challenges many face travelling long distances to Saskatoon.

“We learned an important lesson through this process,” says Jackie Mann, executive sponsor and Vice-President Integrated Health Services, Saskatoon Health Region. “Many were not as concerned about the design itself as they were about improving their care experiences. As a Region and a system, we need to challenge ourselves and make real change in order to make those experiences better. That is why it is so exciting to now see the work underway with our Kaizen Promotion Office and our new lean leaders. The hospital design through 3P kickstarted transformational change. But it is our people and their commitment to improved processes that will make the difference for patients and families.”

The project team also travelled to Kerrobert for a snapshot into central Saskatchewan’s vision as well as the team’s conversations with the more than 100 people who stopped by the CHS open house in Saskatoon in July. The information became even richer as hundreds of design ideas from school children from across the province poured into the project office.

“We invited schools across the province to participate in the design by providing them with some of the key student design activities we had used in our classroom sessions,” explains Craig Ayers, Project Director for Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan. “We were overwhelmed by the responses, particularly from southern Saskatchewan. All this information has been analyzed by our architects and is greatly influencing the details within the design including colours and materials.”

Beyond the children, the team reached out with two interior design surveys both on-line and within clinical areas at Royal University Hospital. More than 300 people from across the province took part in the maternal and NICU surveys. That data is allowing the interiors team to come up with a vision of what those areas in the new hospital need to look and feel like.

“We have heard clearly that this hospital needs to feel like home for patients and families, no matter where they live,” explains Ayers. “We know it needs to make small children feel safe and teenagers feel comfortable. We know it needs to appeal to adults – pregnant women and new mothers and their families. We know it needs to reflect all of Saskatchewan.”

The last scheduled integrated design session took place in early September. And over the next few months, the project team will continue to work through the final details and is optimistic the design will be completed by the end of the year.

The design’s completion will mark an important milestone in the journey. One, that Thiessen will never forget. “This will be a wonderful memory I can tell my children’s children some day,” says Thiessen. “I am so proud of all the hard work of everyone who was involved. I know that this was only successful by having this diverse team of patients and families and many different health-care providers working together for the goal of making a truly unique and Saskatchewan made hospital!”