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February 7, 2003

Children's Hospital opens $28-million expansion

From: Vancouver Sun, Canada - 07 Feb 2003

Ambulatory care clinic will allow some patients to spend less time away from home

Glenn Bohn
Vancouver Sun

Friday, February 07, 2003
A shy, four-year-old girl with a genetic disease became the centre of attention Thursday at the official opening of a $28-million building at B.C.'s Children's Hospital where patients can get medical care without having to spend the night in a hospital bed.

Rina Pinsky was born with cystic fibrosis and later became deaf.

She spent the first three months of her life in the hospital's intensive care unit and a total of seven months in the hospital.

Now, after she received a cochlear implant that allows her to hear again, her parents, Max and Leona Pinsky, only have to take her to the Children's Hospital several times a month as an out-patient. After treatments at the day clinics in the new Children's Ambulatory Care building, Rina returns home.

Rina clutched her dad, shunned a wall of television cameras and didn't utter a word as hospital officials and B.C. Health Services Minister Colin Hansen made speeches Thursday.

But her mother -- a former chair of a parent advisory committee for the building -- joined the others at the podium to explain how much the new building meant to parents.

"The building is bright and the rooms are easy to find," Leona Pinsky said.

"There are play areas for Rina and my other children. And, most importantly, when Rina comes to this building, she knows she'll be sleeping in her own bed that night."

The south face of the building is a wall of glass. Colourful sculptures are suspended from high ceilings. Mini-kitchens in clinics are available for family and patient use.

Pinsky said staff who work in the building -- people who "treat the sickest and most medically fragile children in our province, day after day, week after week" -- now have a pleasant and modern workplace.

"As a family who faces the reality every day of profound deafness and a chronic, progressive illness, our path is not an easy one," she said. "But it's a path that has been made smoother by the help and support we receive here."

Before the first out-patient clinics moved into the new building about one year ago, parents and sick kids went to old out-patient clinics, which used to occupy less than 900 square metres of space inside the hospital.

Stephanie Carlson, the chair of the B.C.'s Children's Hospital Foundation, said it was a cramped and unbearable space. The new building, a five-storey structure near the main entrance of the hospital, has more than 10,555 square metres of space. It has room for 24 medical and surgical clinics, for specialities that range from dermatology to neurosurgery.

Carlson said the foundation raised $8 million of the cost of the building. The provincial government provided the balance, some $20 million.

Hansen said the Ambulatory Care building is symbolic of the changes the health care system is already undergoing. New out-patient services at ambulatory or out-patient clinics mean B.C. needs only 50 per cent of the in-patient hospital beds that were required for the population in 1985, he said.

"This facility is all about the children who are going to get the care they need here," Hansen said. "They're going to see wait lists for care coming down. They're going to see fewer cancellations for surgery, as a direct result of this facility."

© Copyright 2003 Vancouver Sun