A community’s infrastructure is comprised of several important components; however, many would argue that at the core of that infrastructure is an innovative healthcare facility that provides residents with impeccable care. While the original Joseph Brant Hospital (JBH), which was built in 1961, did exactly this, as the years passed the technology and design fell out of touch with the demands of modern day healthcare.
In 2007, the initial proposal for a redevelopment and expansion of Joseph Brant Hospital was put forth to the government and in 2011 it was finally approved. Eric Vandewall, President and CEO of JBH, was brought on board in 2009 to lead this extensive project to completion.
“One of the mandates when I was recruited for this role was to get this project moved forward, approved and executed. We [the JBH team and I] took it from its initial proposal and developed it from there,” Eric explained.
Why Does JBH Need this Project?
There were a number of reasons that the community of Burlington demanded a redevelopment and expansion of its primary healthcare facility. The first was the antiquated facility itself. The 1960’s infrastructure was not built or designed to facilitate leading practices that are necessary today. Eric notes that, “Despite these conditions, our staff has been great in terms of improvising, overcoming our surroundings and providing excellent care to our community, but an update of our technology and facilities themselves is crucial at this time.”
The need for the expansion portion of the project stems deeply from the growing and aging population of Burlington. By the year 2026, the portion of Burlington’s population aged 60-65+ will increase by 38% while the population of those aged 80+ will increase by 68%. Currently, JBH is not sized or equipped to meet the demands of this aging community in the future.
JBH has also had some trouble addressing and meeting critical needs of certain patients within the community. The third achievement that this project will see is the expansion of a number of different programs within the facility, including surgery.
How Will This Project Better Serve the Community?
One of the biggest ways that this redevelopment and expansion project will help to better serve the Burlington community is through JBH’s new partnership with McMaster University. JBH now has formal designation as a clinical education campus with McMaster and currently teaches in family medicine with the goal of eventually teaching in all disciplines. Eric felt that this was an important development because, “with learning and teaching comes improved and high-quality care. There is a strong correlation there.” He elaborated and referenced research that demonstrates that students who are trained within a community have a higher possibility of staying and practicing within that same community once their education is complete.
“We had a 50% conversion rate in our first year of educating family physicians in the teaching unit on site, and a 100% rate the second year. We are growing physicians in Burlington, for Burlington. This new build will also be very attractive to future physicians as they want to train and practice in state-of-the-art facilities.”
Another mandate in place when Eric was brought on board was to demonstrate improvement in the quality of care and service that patients receive. His key focus has been on the emergency department within the hospital. Eric explained that this is where the majority of patients will come to receive their care and where they form impressions of JBH. The biggest area of concern was wait times within the department. At one point, JBH’s wait time for a patient to be placed in a hospital bed at the 90th percentile was as high as 90 hours. Eric and the rest of the team have dropped this by over 50% to 34 hours. Eric acknowledges that while this is significant progress, “we are not done improving our wait times. Our goal is 8 hours or less and we are well on our way to achieving that goal.”
Another important improvement that the redevelopment of the existing hospital will provide is an increase in private rooms. Currently, only 14% of the rooms in the existing facility are single-bed rooms with 40% being four-bed rooms. Once redevelopment has reached completion, 70% of the patient rooms will be private rooms.
Everyone involved in this project is most excited to see the overall impact that it is going to have on the patients that JBH serves. Whether you are coming to JBH to visit a loved one or to receive some form of care yourself, it is generally a stressful experience to visit any hospital. Studies have shown that patients who receive their care in more home-like environments have better health outcomes and shortened lengths of stay. The newly designed Joseph Brant will promote this belief by bringing views of the lake right into the rooms, which creates healing environments for the patients.
One of the greater obstacles for a project of this size is finding the necessary funding to get it off the ground and into completion. This specific project is going to cost a total of approximately $500 million. The provincial government contributed two thirds of the funding, with the remaining third coming from a civic contribution. This civic contribution is made up of a generous $60 million donation from the City of Burlington, with the remaining $60 million coming through a capital fundraising campaign.
“Our Board of Governors, the incredible hospital staff, many in our local community including our municipal council and provincial government and certainly our local LHIN have all been instrumental in making this once dream become a reality. Collectively, we have been able to get to where we are with everyone’s help and commitment to building a new hospital to better serve the residents of Burlington,” explains Mario Joannette, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs for JBH.
The Joseph Brant Foundation, under the leadership of its President Anissa Hilborn, has seen impressive success in raising the remaining funds for this project. Through various fundraising efforts and the generosity of some wonderful donors, the organization has already raised $48 million of the remaining $60 million. Under the leadership of co-chairs Kevin Brady and Brenda Hunter, members of the Capital Campaign Cabinet, which is comprised of prominent members of Burlington Community, has helped with the expansion and redevelopment of JBH immensely as well. One of the biggest supporters has been Mercedes-Benz Burlington (MBB) and Quantum Automotive Group (QAG).
“One of the things that I’ve noticed while with Mercedes-Benz Burlington is the positive impact that Joseph Brant Hospital has had on the community. It is something we as an organization were immediately attracted to from a partnership perspective. They are helping to create and develop a better community by building a better Burlington,” explained John Kelly, Brand Marketing Manager with Mercedes-Benz Burlington.
MBB and QAG have been a community partner with Joseph Brant Hospital for a number of years and have been active hosts for fundraising events, including the annual Crystal Ball and the first ever High Falutin’ Hoedown event in 2015.
“I personally need to thank Mercedes-Benz Burlington for all of their efforts as a partner. Organizations like this one are integral to the success of this project,” Eric shared.
The project has been on schedule and on budget since it began. Phase one of the expansion is already complete, and phase two is well underway with completion scheduled for 2017.
For more information on the Joseph Brant Hospital’s redevelopment and expansion project, please visit: www.josephbranthospital.ca
For more information on Mercedes-Benz Burlington and Quantum Automotive Group, please visit: www.burlington.mercedes-benz.ca