SickKids to revitalize its blood and marrow transplant unit with government investment
The Government of Ontario has pledged a one-time grant of up to $12.5 million in support of renovations to the unit
TORONTO, ON – The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has received a significant funding commitment from the Government of Ontario to move forward with a renovation and expansion of the Hospital’s current blood and marrow transplant/cellular therapy (BMT/CT) unit. This will serve as an interim solution for a critical area of SickKids as the full redevelopment of the Hospital campus (Project Horizon) takes place over the next decade.
“These patients simply can’t wait. Today’s announcement allows us to address our most pressing space problems for our patients right now,” says Dr. Michael Apkon, President and CEO, SickKids. “This investment will allow us to prioritize the comfort and safety of our patients and families to be in line with the standard of care expected of a world-class children’s hospital.”
Han Dong, Member of Provincial Parliament, Trinity-Spadina, was at SickKids to announce the government’s investment to create a better healing environment for BMT/CT patients.
“Our government is pleased to provide The Hospital for Sick Children with up to $12.5 million to support the revitalization of the blood and marrow transplant and cellular therapy unit,” said Dong. “This renovation will ensure that children who require life-saving, complex treatment are able to do so in an environment that is suited to help them heal and recover.”
The BMT/CT unit is home to some of SickKids’ most vulnerable patients who currently stay in isolation rooms for weeks to months at a time and require stringent infection control measures because of their compromised immune systems. Each year, the BMT/CT unit treats approximately 80 patients, meaning these renovations will impact at least 800 patients over the next decade. SickKids staff on the BMT/CT unit have delivered cutting edge care for 25 years but the space they have used to provide this care is in need of significant improvements.
Patient rooms are small and require upgrades to support new technology, individual washrooms and crucial living space for both patients and their caregivers. The rehabilitative process is slow as patients are unable to get sufficient exercise within the limited space of their rooms yet can’t leave due to isolation requirements.
Owen Weinstein, 14, has been in the BMT/CT unit at SickKids twice for treatment of a high-risk form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Owen was diagnosed in January of 2014 when he was just nine years old. In the summer of 2017, Owen was admitted to the BMT/CT unit for cellular therapy and was admitted once again in October of that year for a bone marrow transplant. After spending a total of three months on the unit, Owen is now back at school and doing well.
“All of the doctors and nurses worked so hard to make me and my family as comfortable as possible. But at the end of the day the space just didn’t match up with the care,” says Owen. “Changing the physical space of the unit will make a massive difference in the lives of the patients and families who have to call it home.”
The entire unit will expand by 2,425 square feet to increase capacity and provide space for young adult patients, taking pressure off the adult health-care system. All patient rooms will get private washrooms and family space. The air handling systems in the unit will be updated so patients can get outside of their rooms and walk around, providing space for critical rehabilitative activities.
These simple changes will be transformative for children and their families undergoing a transplant or cellular therapy experience by supporting the care team in delivering these therapies safely.
“We are the referral site for transplants and cellular therapy for children from across Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, performing over 100 bone marrow transplants every year. We also serve patients from across Canada who are in need of advanced, state-of-the-art cellular therapies,” says Dr. Jim Whitlock, Chief, Division of Haematology/Oncology, SickKids. “This project will modernize the unit so we can continue to deliver excellent care for more patients over the next decade.”
The renovation and expansion of the BMT unit will occur in phases to ensure continuity of transplant services. The project is expected to begin later this year and will likely take 18-24 months to complete.
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally. Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized child and family-centred care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health-care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children. A Better World. Follow us on Twitter (@SickKidsNews) and Instagram (@SickKidsToronto).