Saskatoon Health Region announced on April 21 that adult critical care capacity has increased at Royal University Hospital through the completion of Intensive Care Unit renovations. The RUH ICU has expanded to 17 beds from 14.

Deb Gudmundson unveils the new satellite room to media and guests.

For Heather Thiessen, any upgrades to Royal University Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit were welcome. Due to a chronic condition that affects her breathing, she has been in and out of the ICU many times over the last 12 years, and understands that changes were needed. Due to her condition, Thiessen is usually much more alert than other patients in the ICU. It gives her a unique perspective on what has been done.

“It’s definitely a busy unit,” says Thiessen, who is also a patient advisor from the Critical Care Advisory Council. “The added capacity should definitely help the staff better care for patients.”

The renovated ICU includes a redeveloped two-bed satellite room, and upgrades to three beds that formerly belonged to the Coronary Care Unit. The newly renovated areas have improved space for patients, families and staff. The two-bed satellite was originally opened as a temporary space to house patients when capacity issues were identified. The safety upgrades to this space improve staff’s ability to care for patients.

“The new ICU beds will greatly enhance our capacity to assess and treat critically ill patients who are admitted to the unit,” says Dr. Susan Shaw, Department Head for Critical Care. “Patients and families can find comfort in the fact that the equipment and facilities have undergone a major upgrade.”

The $4.2 million, six phase ICU/CCU renovation, was funded by the federal government and administered by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. Renovations to the CCU began in June 2009 and were completed in May of 2010. Funding for the ICU monitors, which are the latest technology, and the Central Monitoring System was provided by donors to the Royal University Hospital Foundation’s Royal Vital Care Campaign.

The renovation was particularly complex as it required construction while not affecting patient safety or care. Renovations to ICU’s family space will be completed later this year with the ICU Patient and Family Advisory Council playing an important role in helping the Region determine what can be done to support patients’ families in what is obviously a difficult and stressful time.