New Humber River Hospital

Maximizing patient, visitor and staff safety with technology, community partnerships


Senior Writer, Humber River Hospital

Hospitals are where you go when you or a loved one is having a health emergency but what happens when different emergencies, such as fire, a hazardous spill or a community disaster, happen in or near a hospital? Being prepared for any kind of emergency - medical or community - is something that the Humber River Hospital team takes very seriously.

Humber River Hospital is prioritizing safety in the planning for their new hospital, which is set to open on October 18, 2015. This is North America’s first fully digital hospital which, among many other features, is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to help respond to crisis situations and reduce the overall risks associated with emergency situations within the new hospital and in the community.

“Ensuring safety – for patients, for staff and physicians, for volunteers and visitors - is an absolute priority for my team,” says Mike Orrico, Humber’s Director of Emergency Preparedness. “We all hope crisis situations never happen, but if that day does come, we will be ready. We will keep everyone safe and informed.”

Humber River Hospital’s Emergency Preparedness Department has been taking every step to ensure that their existing emergency code procedures are adapted to the new hospital building. From sudden medical emergencies to community disasters, this team has been looking at every possible situation at every angle, developing an effective reaction in case these events ever do occur.

“We have a great partnership with Toronto Fire, Toronto Police Services and Toronto EMS, as well as other experts,” explains Orrico, “for developing policies and procedures to help ensure the safety and security of everyone in the new hospital.”

The digital hospital plays a large role with emergency preparedness and implementing emergency procedures. Staff and physicians, security and EMS personnel are electronically connected through handheld devices and computer alarms, and notified immediately of the emergency location and details, as well as up-to-the-minute updates. The public will be notified in certain situations via electronic monitors throughout the hospital.

Additional technological safety measures for patients include the use of a Real Time Locating System (RTLS) with a ‘Nurse Call’ system to further enhance safety in the hospital. At-risk adult and paediatric patients will be fitted with RTLS wrist monitors or newborn foot monitors to ensure their safety. Staff and physicians have immediate access to the RTLS so that help can be discretely summoned in the case of a dangerous situation.

The new Humber River Hospital is equipped to handle community disasters, such as explosions and derailments. There is a designated decontamination unit, as well as the ability to use the enclosed ambulance bay to decontaminate over 100 people at one time. In cases where a local incident impacts the external air quality, the hospital’s air handling system will switch from using external air to purified recirculated air.

This is all in an effort to ensure that patients, visitors, and everyone in the hospital is cared for under any emergency circumstance. With extensive training, all hospital staff will be knowledgeable in how to react and care for everyone who is in the hospital at times of crisis.

To learn more about the new Humber River Hospital, you can visit the website, in person at 1235 Wilson Avenue, Toronto, or contact by phone at 416 242-1000.