Calgary Health Trust

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour the Ward of the 21st Century

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge toured the Ward of the 21st Century (W21C) when they stopped in Calgary for their first official Canadian royal tour in July 2011. The W21C project was a joint initiative between Calgary Health Trust and the University of Calgary through the Reach! campaign.

The W21C Initiative was a research and innovation initiative based at the University of Calgary (U of C) and in the Calgary zone of Alberta Health Services (AHS). The initiative was created to respond to the urgent need for innovation in health care. The W21C started in May 2004 when the medical teaching unit (Unit 36) opened at Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) followed by the opening of the W21C Research and Innovation Centre (W21C Centre) in November 2009.

Some of Unit 36's distinctive features include:

  • Moveable walls that can isolate patients if required
  • Duplication of gases such as oxygen at each bedside, providing the ability to add a second patient to every room in the event of a disaster
  • A four-bed observation ward with bedside retractable toilets and dedicated support space to house the most acutely ill patients on the Unit
  • Ten rooms with negative air pressure and isolation capability - ideal for managing an infectious disease outbreak
  • Dedicated education rooms to create an optimum environment for telehealth and teaching functions

The W21C Centre was designed to provide:

  • On-site dry laboratory space to support multidisciplinary and collaborative research activities
  • Newly constructed Healthcare Human Factors and Simulation Laboratory
  • Meeting and seminar space equipped with innovative features
  • Common space to promote dialogue among disciplines
  • Research workstations and office space
  • Wireless computer environment with the capability to interface with hospital information and data collection systems
  • Flexible and secure research database server space for data management

The W21C's vision is "to define the future of health care", and its mission is "to innovate, create, educate and evolve to build new paradigms of health care delivery." The primary goal of the W21C has been to create state-of-the-art clinical and research infrastructure that attracts and enables multidisciplinary researchers, industry and other stakeholders to collaborate on innovative approaches to improving patient safety and quality of care. The W21C's equipment and space infrastructure facilitate multidisciplinary research and innovation activities within a nationally and internationally unique W21C 'living laboratory'.

The W21C's multidisciplinary team of local, national, and international experts is undertaking an ambitious research agenda into innovative solutions to the challenges of safety and quality of care.  This strong base of institutional support has provided an essential foundation from which the W21C team can competitively, and successfully, pursue funding opportunities.

Successful funding relationships with companies and individuals alike have enabled the growth and maturation of the W21C Initiative, as well as made the construction of the new W21C Research and Innovation Centre possible. Below are seven specific W21C projects that characterize the type of work the Initiative is undertaking and that have been supported.

1. Web-based communication tool for seamless discharge communication:
The W21C is targeting the recognized problem of poor communication between health care providers, as well as between patients and providers. Working in partnership with a Calgary-based communications company (Clarity Inc.) and AHS; the W21C team has co-developed an interface with Alberta's cuttingedge NetCare initiative to enhance communication between the hospitals and family doctors so that transitions of care can occur more safely.

2. Technology pre-testing and simulation-based research to influence design of Calgary's new South Health Campus (SHC):
AHS is part way through the construction of the new SHC, scheduled to open in late 2011. The W21C team worked in close partnership with the executive leadership of the SHC in the pretesting of technologies of special interest, and in simulation-based pre-testing of various 'mocked-up' room designs. The simulationbased research, led by Human Factors expert Dr. Jeff Caird, has been successful in refining room design plans prior to actual room construction on the SHC site.

It is felt by the SHC executive leadership team that the room design adjustments identified by this W21C research will provide significant clinical enhancements and cost savings to AHS in the
long term.

3. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) tracking of complex hospital ward system:
W21C served as a 'pilot testing site' and provides recommendations about investment in technology within this area. The Real Time Location System (RTLS) is a Wi-Fi location monitoring system which was developed by IBM and AeroScout.

The primary objective of the RTLS project was to pilot an advanced spatial positioning and tracking system in an applied in-patient setting to explore the application of such technologies for enhancing patient safety and quality of care.

4. Provider Well-Being:
The physical and mental well-being of providers is an important challenge in health care, and an 'unwell' provider can adversely influence patient quality of care and patient safety. W21C Team Members are identifying key issues relevant to providers' quality of work life and career development based on data collected from a variety of providers in the areas of medicine, nursing and paramedical disciplines.

5. Infection Control:
With the construction of the W21C and its features designed to reduce hospital-acquired infection and colonization, W21C researchers are studying the impact of design, construction and engineering controls on common hospitalacquired infections such as Staph infections, and C. difficile. Since the first year of clinical operation, there has been a remarkable decline of 70% of these organisms. The W21C Team is conducting a trial to isolate the 'design feature factor' and assess its relationship to rates of hospital-acquired infection.

6. Pressure Monitoring:
Bed sores are areas of localized damage to the skin and underlying tissues, caused by pressure or friction, and are commonly found in elderly patients with reduced mobility. The W21C Team is helping XSENSOR in the development of a Pressure Imaging system which is a thin flexible mattress overlay that is designed to monitor, record, and analyze patient interface pressure on a hospital bed. T

The W21C's state-of-the-art facility provides a perfect testing ground for XSENSOR. This technology can aid in the prevention of bed sores by helping staff determine when to move or turn patients.

7. Smart Camera System:
The W21C is working with Calgarybased Intelliview Technologies Inc. to evaluate a 'smart camera' that has the potential to improve patient quality of care and safety by going beyond fall risk assessment and specifically looking at fall prevention.The system consists of a distributed intelligent infrared/ video sensor/camera that monitors the movements of subjects within a pre-defined field, so weaknesses can be identified before a fall can occur.