The Heart Institute’s new facility will open on April 3. Photo: Ellie Sabourin.
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New attachments include emergency room, link to Ottawa Civic Hospital

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute has just opened its “most significant expansion in 40 years,” according to CEO and President Dr. Thierry Mesana, with doctors set to treat patients in the new section as soon as April 3.

The newly-added critical care tower spans a total of 145,000 square feet and features a link with the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

“The emergencies are right there. The people that need heart surgeries or are having heart attacks can come through right here now,” said Mesana on the new link.

The Heart Institute hopes to save time for patients by having an accessible link to the emergency room at the hospital, as well as a drop off bay for ambulances in front of the new critical care tower.

Mesana expressed that the staff of the Heart Institute are excited to work in the new facilities. “When they first saw it, they were like kids in front of Christmas trees.”

The new facilities feature four new electrophysiology laboratories, which will serve approximately one patient each per day, and four new catheterization laboratories, which can service between 10 and 12 patients each per day.  

Mesana said that electrophysiology labs were a top priority for the Heart Institute, as “this is the fastest-growing problem in cardiovascular health today. We added labs to accommodate for this need.”The $230 million renovation began to be drafted over 12 years ago, with construction breaking ground four years ago.

“It was a long process, but we had absolutely zero delays and no additional costs.”

The new wing also hosts the Da Vinci surgical system, a robot controlled by a surgeon who is away from the operating table. This type of technology allows surgeons to work with very small incisions on patients.

Although the new expansion officially opens after the long weekend, the Heart Institute already has a plan in motion to keep expanding. In the new tower, there are several unfinished rooms which can be easily converted into additional laboratories and operating rooms for when the demand becomes high enough.

Moreover, there is an entire floor of the tower that will currently not be in use. The plan is to turn this floor into beds for long term care patients in the next few years.

This plan was put in place in order to be able to renovate in the future without closing down any functioning parts of the Institute.

“We have kept this space to relieve other hospitals from cardiac patients who need our help when the demand is there,” said Mesana. “We are very, very proud.”