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We’re reaching new heights on the Patient Support Centre!
13 minute read

We’re reaching new heights on the Patient Support Centre!


The Patient Support Centre (PSC) has reached the highest point of construction – a milestone known as “topping off”. The PSC is a critical first step in Project Horizon, SickKids’ campus redevelopment.

A large group of men and women wearing construction gear stand together with a large steel beam covered in signatures. The Toronto skyline is visible behind them

If you’ve been to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) since 2018, you might have noticed the ever-changing view from the windows looking out on to Elizabeth Street. From the removal of the pedestrian bridge to the demolition of the Elizabeth McMaster building, and most recently, the construction of our future Patient Support Centre (PSC), the progress has been non-stop.

In 2019, we broke ground on the future 22-storey training, education and administrative tower. Now, almost exactly three years and many hours of work later, we’re thrilled to celebrate topping off the building with a ceremony in the centre of the action at the PSC site.

Representatives from SickKids and SickKids Foundation gathered on the 22nd floor of the PSC for the celebration. With the windows looking into the Research Institute at the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning to one side, and an unobstructed view of the Toronto skyline to the other, speakers shared thoughts about the significance of the progress that’s been made on this new addition to the campus. Staff, donors and members of the public tuned in to the celebration via livestream.

We are not just building buildings – we are helping to build dreams. As you all know, dreams are rarely built alone. The Patient Support Centre is another fine example of SickKids reaching new heights – literally – when we work together.
A man in construction gear stands at a podium speaking, while the audience, also wearing construction gear, sits in rows of chairs facing him
Dr. Ronald Cohn, SickKids President and CEO, speaking at the Topping Off Ceremony

Among the attendees were the Di Folco family. Their late son, Matteo, was a patient at SickKids who had expressed an interest in working in construction and enjoyed watching the construction of the PSC out of the window of his hospital room. Last summer, the crew working on the PSC site gathered on the highest floor of the building with a large sign to wave to Matteo in his room across the street. They also wrote his name in the concrete of the building, preserving his memory and his excitement about the building forever. Matteo’s parents and sister reflected on his time at SickKids and honoured his memory at the event.

Photo 1: an aerial photo of a construction crew gathered on a construction site waving and holding a sign that says "Hi Matteo" Photo 2: a slab of wet concrete with the words 2021 Matteo written in it
The PSC construction crew holding a sign and waving to Matteo in his hospital room, and Matteo's name written in the concrete of the PSC
A man, woman and teenage girl wearing construction gear crouch down in front of a large steel beam covered in signatures

“We look to this building with hope and strength, as a piece of Matteo lives on here and continues to fight for all sick kids. We are honoured to celebrate this moment with you and extremely excited to see how SickKids will transform over the years. Just like you cheered Matteo and our family on and were there for us, we’ll continue to be there for you.”

- Franco Di Folco, Matteo's father

Attendees celebrated the milestone by signing a steel beam with their name and some words of inspiration about the PSC. This beam will be turned into a bench on the rooftop patio for visitors to enjoy for years to come.

A man wearing a hard hat, glasses and a construction vest kneels down to sign a large steel beam using a permanent marker
Peter Goldthorpe, Vice President, Transformation signing the beam

Watch a recap of the Topping Off Ceremony and our progress to date:

[Dramatic music plays]

Timelapse footage of a building being constructed.

Text on screen: In 2019, we broke ground on the Patient Support Centre.

A voice off screen: From the ground we stand on, a new SickKids will rise.

[Applause and cheering]

Text on screen: Now in 2022, we’re reaching new heights. With over 25,000 cubic metres of concrete, 2230 metric tons of rebar, two 9 tonne cranes, and 500,000 hours of work, construction has reached its highest point and we are topping off the PSC.

Ryan Evans: Topping off really is a milestone on any project. It represents the building being in place, the structure is now complete. We're no longer going up, we're now in the home stretch and striving towards the completion of the project.

Ronni Cohn: And I know I'm not the only one who has felt the weight of the pandemic. All of us have, whether that is in our clinical roles, in our supportive roles, every single person has felt it. So let's take the time today and really come together and celebrate yet another huge milestone.

Franco Di Folco: Our beloved son Matteo was at SickKids for 6 years.  Sadly, Matteo passed away on January 28, 2022, at the age of 17. Last June, Matteo was given his own construction boots, hard hat and an amazing salute from all the construction workers. I know he felt very humbled, grateful and loved by this gesture. Shortly after, his name was inscribed in the concrete of the third floor of this building which will forever honour Matteo's legacy and those of all SickKids children. Even though our hearts are forever broken, and we still cannot imagine our lives without our precious Matteo, we look to this building with hope and strength, as a piece of him lives on here and continues to fight for all sick kids.

Ted Garrard: Back in 2017 we launched what was the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian health care history.  And as of today, more than 1.2 million Canadians have supported this fundraising effort.

Monique Buckberger: One of the parts of our culture is that we give back to our community and the communities in which we live and work in. So being part of this particular project, the Patient Support Centre, and helping the process of providing a better facility for SickKids is very special and meaningful for not only PCL, but all the workers on site.

Text on screen: The Patient Support Centre is a critical first step in building a new SickKids. Thank you to the people, progress and purpose that have brought us to this point.

[Music ends]

The Patient Support Centre: A critical first step in our journey to build a new SickKids

A tall building with glass walls in downtown Toronto
The Patient Support Centre (September 2022)

This building will enable the relocation of staff and services out of the older wings of the hospital, which will be demolished in the next three to five years, to make way for the new Peter Gilgan Family Patient Care Tower.

The PSC will be the new home of the SickKids Learning Institute, which supports more than 1,000 world-class trainees, students and learners annually. The building will also include a state-of-the-art Simulation Centre for hands-on teaching in a bright, modern workspace for professionals, management and support staff. Another defining characteristic of the new tower is the variety of collaboration and activity spaces that will be accessible to all staff and learners from across the campus. The building will also include healing and purpose-built spaces for patients and families, and spaces to support staff wellness including green space and natural light.

The PSC’s glass façade was designed to ensure bright light throughout the building, and to foster increased connectivity between SickKids and the community. The fins along the building add colour, while also providing shading and optimizing the building’s thermal performance.

Once open, the PSC will be an integral link on the SickKids campus, connecting the main hospital Atrium and the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, via a new pedestrian bridge connection.

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