Project: Qikiqtani General Hospital Iqaluit, Nunavut
Construction Cost: $19.7 million
Year of Completion: 2016
Northern Canadian public institutions, such as hospitals and schools, serve relatively small populations spread over immense areas. To reach their schools and hospitals, many pupils, patients, staff and visitors have to travel significant distances, often in inhospitable weather conditions. Northern hospitals, therefore, need to provide a diverse range of inpatient and outpatient services. Qikiqtani Hospital serves the approximately 16,000 inhabitants of Baffin Region, an area of more than one million square kilometres, (i.e., about the size of Egypt!). The project comprised major renovations to the original acute care facility, Baffin Regional Hospital (BRH), as well as upgrades to the recently built Qikiqtani General Hospital (QGH).
Once most of the majority of clinical services were transferred from BRH to the new building, Parkin was retained to convert the original BRH building into an Ambulatory Care facility providing primary care services to Nunavut residents. The BRH renovation provides accommodation of medical and health related offices that function to support the new hospital, including dietary and nutrition services, telehealth, rehabilitation, dental health, specialty and family practice clinics, and more.
These buildings work in tandem. The BRH upgrade included significant alterations to major departments, such as food services, laundry, ambulatory functions and the physical plant. A connecting corridor between the buildings provides efficient and comfortable communication, without exposure users to the region’s harsh climate.
The BRH was re-roofed and windows were replaced. A new shipping-and-receiving bay improves operational efficiencies, while also reducing risk of infection, while upgrades to the building fabric and systems ensure conformity to current building and accessibility codes. A major statement was made in the form of new main entrance addition, providing a vibrant updated image against the tundra background.
Challenges and Solutions:
Maintaining Healthcare Services
One of the primary challenges was how to maintain healthcare services for the community during construction. This was accommodate by a carefully planned and executed phasing of construction activities.
To support the updated model of care delivery, the conversion creates additional exam and minor procedure rooms in the original BRH facility incorporating it into the Outpatient Clinic. The repurposed BRH building allows for increased emphasis on:
- Integrated health services with a single point of delivery in Iqaluit
- Diverse caregivers
- Community wellness
- A systems approach to the delivery of care
- The Inuit employment strategy
Climate and Location
The challenge was twofold. First we had to plan around the geographic location, and second how to build in the arctic where temperatures are extreme, unpredictable and long ranging.
Due to the remoteness of the location, construction materials needed to be shipped by barge. Shipments are only allowed during the summer months, typically twice a year. This required detailed planning and care to ensure materials arrived at the site at times that would not delay the construction schedule.
Extremely cold winters required construction work to be postponed until temperatures increased or when the buildings were enclosed and heated.
Utilization of Space
The altered model of delivery of care required in-depth discussion of how to maximize the use of new and existing space. It was determined that the best way to guarantee future flexibility would be to separate offices from exam rooms, and to design exam and procedure rooms to be as typical as possible, such that any service could be performed in any room. The result is faster patient turnaround, as well as efficient use of staff resources.
Few firms would be capable of designing and building in Canada’s North, while staying true to the IQ principles of traditional Inuit culture. Parkin’s experience in northern and vernacular architecture ensures that these facilities will withstand the demands of a difficult climate at the same time creating spaces that heal while respecting local culture.