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The power of a project: Michael Garron Hospital phase 1 redevelopment

What does it take to deliver an ambitious hospital redevelopment project in the middle of a pandemic?

 exterior of Michael Garron HospitalLike any of IO’s projects, it takes professionalism and partnership, with a good dose of flexibility. We caught up with Chris Nelson, Director, Health, on the Project Delivery team to learn more about the Michael Garron Hospital redevelopment project and what it means to him.

“My participation in the delivery of health care projects goes beyond my professional commitment,” said Chris. “To me, it’s personal. I am blessed to say that my family is a direct recipient of the services that our hospital projects provide. Knowing that I play a small part in contributing to this is something I am very proud of.”

In January, Michael Garron Hospital in east Toronto celebrated the grand opening of its new Ken and Marilyn Thomson Patient Care Centre – a key part of the Phase 1 redevelopment project. For Chris and the team, the milestone was a great opportunity to look beyond the day-to-day work of the project and see the big picture. “We often don’t see the direct impact of our contributions,” said Chris. “Seeing what this milestone meant to the hospital allowed me to take heart, knowing that our projects help provide quality care to the community for generations to come.”

The redevelopment project, which broke ground in 2018, involved over 500,000 square feet of new construction that includes the new eight-storey tower and underground parking, plus 200,000 square feet of demolition and 120,000 square feet of renovation. The new centre is designed to serve the needs of the growing community by offering improved outpatient services, new in-patient beds, and renovated non-clinical spaces.

Health care settings faced unprecedented challenges when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. At Michael Garron Hospital, the construction project added to the complications. Getting through it involved skilful decision-making between IO, the hospital, and the construction team. “It’s an existing facility that needs to keep running smoothly despite the construction activities,” said Chris. “It all came down to communication – that’s really the key on these types of projects.”

The team developed an integrated approach that kept all parties on the same page when it came to the schedule and affected spaces. If a health care provider needed to use a particular space in the hospital due to infection control or occupancy limits, the project team worked quickly to make sure everyone was aware and that the contractors followed protocols. Flexibility is always key on projects of this size and complexity, but never more so than in the early days of the pandemic. “With this much renovation, once you start, you expect some bumps along the way,” said Chris. “But COVID just added to that, so it was critical that IO and our partners could look at the challenges and come up with a solution together, while still keeping the project on track.” The teams had to be flexible enough to change the sequence of work because of pandemic restrictions. “We were able to work with our partners to manage the impact on the schedule, in order to meet timelines.”

Check out the recent video to learn more about the project and see some of the new and refreshed spaces in the patient care centre.

“The impact of projects like this goes way beyond the immediate,” says Chris. “Infrastructure is really generational, and at IO we are able to see the impact of our work for years to come.”