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Breathing new life into Port Perry hospital

Angela Gismondi
Breathing new life into Port Perry hospital
LAKERIDGE HEALTH — Port Perry hospital will officially reopen its doors Sept. 5 after being closed for over a year following a fire last August which significantly damaged its mechanical and electrical systems. Reconstruction efforts have been ongoing since last year and include twin generators that will improve operations at the hospital; a revamped operating room; a spacious kitchen; as well as improvements to the emergency, new life and diagnostic imaging departments.

Finishing touches are being put on restoration work at the Port Perry hospital in north Durham Region, Ont. following a fire that occurred on the roof last August.

The new and improved facility is expected to open its doors Sept. 5 and has undergone extensive work since the fire, which significantly damaged the hospital’s power plant containing mechanical and electrical systems.

The damage was estimated at $10 million.

“It was a fire that happened on our roof as a consequence of some work that was being completed. There was an accidental ignition of some insulation that was on the roof when some roofers were finishing up the project. As a result, we had a fire that forced the temporary closure of the hospital since late last August,” reported Christine Nuernberger, VP of people at Lakeridge Health and site lead for the hospital.

“The fire did break through the roof. It was very contained to that section of the hospital and so gratefully we had no injuries to anyone in the building but it did do significant damage to the mechanical and engineering systems of the building. That is where our focus has been over the past year — to restore mechanical and electrical systems throughout the hospital.”

Although other areas of the hospital were not directly impacted, those areas were not functional due to the extensive damage.

“As you can appreciate, the type of mechanical and electrical systems in a hospital are not customary,” explained Nuernberger.

“They are very unique and tailored and the reordering of all of that has been a big part of the work.”

The project team consists of prime consultant H.H. Angus, general contractor Dineen Construction, Ontario Electric and Mutual Mechanical.

Talks to restore the building began the day after the fire, Nuernberger said, but other issues needed to be addressed before starting the actual restoration process.


Opportunity presented us with a chance to upgrade so we did

— Christine Nuernberger

Lakeridge Health


“It took us a couple of months to do some scoping of the building to understand exactly what was required, to assess those critical systems and make a plan for their replacement,” said Nuernberger.

“There were two months worth of work that impacted the restoration timeline where we had some asbestos abatement and some mould remediation work to do. A building of this vintage, it’s not surprising that it was there, it was just taking all the appropriate steps to deal with it once it had been potentially disturbed.

“Once that was complete construction started immediately thereafter.”

Sophisticated twin generators, designed to maintain power throughout the hospital, were installed as part of the restoration.

“One of the things that is really good news for the building and operation itself is that we have had the opportunity to install two new generators so that too creates security within our operation,” said Nuernberger.

“It’s a design feature that wasn’t one that we were looking to do at the time but opportunity presented us with a chance to upgrade so we did.”

Other improvements include enhancements to the emergency department and diagnostic imaging; a revamped operating room; and a new kitchen.

“The exciting part of the story is while the building was closed it presented us with an opportunity to think about what else we might be able to improve upon given that the hospital was empty,” said Nuernberger.

“There were some improvements made to our patient care areas including in our new life centre, as well as the installation of some new flooring in our emergency department. It also gave us an opportunity to upgrade exterior brickwork to modernize the building facade. We certainly seized upon the opportunity with a closed building to move some of these projects ahead.”

Before the hospital officially opens in September, all hospital systems will be tested, equipment will be re-certified and the entire building will undergo a sterilization process.

Nuernberger said she would like to thank everyone for their support throughout the process.

“The people of north Durham have been so patient and supportive of the organization through the closure,” said Nuernberger.

“We’ve had amazing support from our foundation, from the auxiliary and from the medical associates of Port Perry who have been our partners all along to ensure there is uninterrupted access to services for people in that community while the hospital was closed and all of the community partners who have rallied to support us while we restored the hospital.”

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