Excitement Builds for Improvements to Burnaby Hospital’s ICU


Burnaby Hospital Phase 1 © Diamond Schmitt

As Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed walks into the new temporary entrance of Burnaby Hospital, he passes two cranes, a large group of construction workers, and the framework of the first stage of Burnaby Hospital’s massive redevelopment project. To him, these signify the changes that will soon improve the day-to-day experiences of hundreds of hospital staff and thousands of patients.

“The redevelopment of our 70-year-old hospital is both exciting and complex. The project is happening on the site of an active hospital, so there are many factors to take into consideration,” explained Dr. Ahmed. “Our hospital is proud to continue providing patient-centred care while we work to expand and upgrade our current, aging facilities into a modern healthcare campus.”

Recently taking on the responsibilities of Site Medical Director, Dr. Ahmed is influencing innovation and change in all areas of Burnaby Hospital, where the redevelopment will impact almost every department. The long-awaited changes will create new advances and opportunities, new pathways and processes, all leading to state-of-the-art care to ensure the very best outcomes for Burnaby’s patients.

Expanding the ICU

Dr. Ahmed has an especially close connection to the upgrades and expansion of Burnaby Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), serving as the Department Head for four years, including during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our staff in the ICU witnessed firsthand the impact of the pandemic on patients and their families,” he recalled. “Patients felt more alone than before. Families were frightened to visit; when they were able to, it was under significant restrictions including limits on the number of visitors and maintaining strict precautions. This limited the ability of families to support their loved ones and proved extremely difficult for them.

“So, with the help of Burnaby Hospital Foundation, we became creative. The Foundation supplied technology used to connect families remotely via video—something not common in ICUs previously, but that has now become an everyday occurrence. The sense of connection it provided for patients was deeply meaningful.”

burnaby hospital
Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed © Courtesy of Burnaby Hospital Foundation
Kristy James, President and CEO © 2022 Erich Saide

The ICU’s purpose is to care for and support critically ill patients—those who are too sick to receive care in other hospital departments.

“In our ICU, we guide patients and their families through what is an intense experience, when they are at their most vulnerable,” Dr. Ahmed explained. “Our role, first and foremost, is to improve the health and wellbeing of our patients, but we also help support their families and friends through what can be a traumatic time.”

Dr. Ahmed has been closely involved in advocating for upgrades to Burnaby Hospital’s ICU. “We currently don’t have single-patient rooms; redevelopment will bring this to our ICU,” he shared. “When a patient enters the ICU, they enter an invasive space where they are surrounded by high-tech equipment and staff who are ready to act at a moment’s notice. Private rooms are one way that we can help bring a personal touch through family visits and displaying mementos from their lives—it will have an enormous impact on our patients’ healing and mental health.”

In addition, private rooms help reduce the risk of infection from one patient to another, increasing the level of safety for both patients and staff—a concern that became even more important during the pandemic. Included in the proposed upgrades are airborne isolation rooms with a dedicated space to put on and remove Personal Protective Equipment, which meets pandemic-era standards for infection control.

The need for upgrades

“Burnaby Hospital’s ICU cared for 544 patients last year, double the number from the previous year,” shared Kristy James, President and CEO of Burnaby Hospital Foundation. “The care provided are for the sickest people in our community and it will be a comfort to know that when our ICU is needed, it is well-equipped to provide modern medical care.”

Burnaby Hospital Foundation’s Bright Future Campaign: Better Care Close to Home focuses on bringing upgraded and expanded services to the aging community hospital.

“Our hospital provides patient-centred medical care to a population of 500,000 people from Burnaby, East Vancouver and the surrounding communities. The current facility has not been upgraded in over 40 years and was designed to serve only a fraction of that population,” shared James. “As we see the incredible growth in our entire region, Burnaby Hospital must grow as well.”

© Stockysy

The Foundation is looking towards the community to help bring modern equipment and technology to the ICU. The upgrades will significantly increase the number of beds in the unit, helping address the need we will see in the coming years. In addition to private rooms, redevelopment will bring modern equipment and technology to the ICU that was previously not possible due to space and technical limitations.

“Every minute matters when you are talking about our most critically ill,” affirmed James. “Our ICU is constantly at capacity, which means patients who need the specialized, around-the-clock care in the ICU may need to wait in a different department or are transferred to a different hospital. That’s why our fundraising is focusing on the idea of ‘Close to Home,’ where appropriate medical care will be available to you right in your community.”

James emphasized that this is a meaningful opportunity for the community to contribute towards the hospital that they or their loved ones need. Creating an impact today has a lasting effect on healthcare that benefits loved ones, now and well into the future.

“Redevelopment will be transformative for our ICU, for our hospital, and for our community. It will allow our staff to provide patients with comprehensive care in a modernized campus in their own community. I am grateful to be part of this change and look forward to seeing this vision spring to life,” shared Dr. Ahmed.

To learn more and donate to the redevelopment, visit bhfoundation.ca/brightfuture

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Burnaby Hospital Foundation still needs your help to transform a beloved community hospital into a state-of-the-art facility that will meet the growing health care needs of Burnaby and East Vancouver for generations to come.


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