Public to get sneak peek of Canada's second largest emergency department

Canada's second largest emergency department at Surrey Memorial Hospital is getting set to open and this Saturday visitors will get a sneak peek of the vast, complex facility.

At 57,000 square feet – five times the size of the current ER – it's big enough to fit three NHL hockey rinks inside.

And the size is just the start of its superlatives and unique attributes.

Fraser Health officials say it will transform health care in Surrey when it opens Oct. 1.

For one thing, it's really not one ER but two – a second dedicated pediatric emergency department is built into it with separate public entrances.

The idea is to separate kids from other patients, particularly the 8,000 adults a year who arrive who are mentally ill or addicted, so kids no longer have to face some of the sights and sounds of the adult ER.

Those adult patients will be triaged and escorted to a separate and calming Mental Health and Substance Use Zone for treatment, rather than being mixed in with other adults.

The child-friendly pediatric wing will have an entertainment centre, special low-glare lighting in treatment rooms, and isolation rooms for kids with infectious diseases.

 The July 13 free tours run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parking is free on Saturday – visitors are to enter at the southwest corner of 94A Avenue.

The bigger building also comes with 275 more staff and 3,750 new pieces of equipment, many of them being provided by the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Officials say the advanced new Emergency Department will help SMH attract more specialized ER professionals.

It's all in anticipation of continued growth as Surrey's population continues to rise.

Fraser Health projects the SMH ER, which now handles twice the number of patients it was built for, will hit 109,000 patient visits next year, including 8,000 with mental health or addiction issues.

Adult visits are projected to rise 30 per cent from 2010 levels by 2020 and climb a further 23 per cent by 2030.

The new ER is just part of the $512-million SMH redevelopment and expansion.

The rest of the project is slated for completion in 2014 and includes a new eight-storey critical care tower with 150 more inpatient beds, intensive care unit, academic space and perinatal centre.

Sukhi Kang  604-377-1246

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