01/14/2013 10:42 EST | Updated 03/16/2013 05:12 EDT

New Calgary Hospital, South Health Campus, Open To Patients


Calgary's newest hospital is open and ready for business.

The doors of the South Health Campus emergency department swung open for the first time to the public Monday morning, welcoming more than 160 staff to their first day serving the city at the new facility.

According to the Calgary Herald, several other units open today as well, including mental health emergency services, cardiac diagnostics and the bone and joint cast clinic.

The hope is that the new ER will help ease some of the burden felt at other hospitals dealing with a space crunch from a rash of people seeking treatment for the flu and Norovirus.

"I'm excited. To see this facility go from a farmer's field to a nine-storey, massive complex with an incredible amount of technology, who wouldn't be excited to work here. I certainly can't wait for the doors to open," Dr. Colin Del Castilho, physician site lead for the campus, told the Herald.

"We're expecting with the recent increases in the other departments due to the flu that we'll definitely be busy and I think the other departments are hoping that we can alleviate some of their volume," Del Casthilo told the Calgary Sun.

"We feel our processes are ready to go ... we're just waiting for some patients to show up."

Metro Calgary reports the hospital is expecting patients right away. Thirty ER beds opened at 7 a.m. this morning, the majority of them in private rooms, as well as 20 short-stay spaces in a new rapid access unit - the first of its kind in Canada.

"I think Calgarians need to know that this is an amazing opportunity for the city . . . we have fantastic staff, we have innovative thinkers and we've had tremendous design opportunities," campus medical director Dr. Cheri Nijssen-Jordan said in an interview with Metro.

According to Metro, one-third of hires for the new campus have come from outside of Calgary, with several coming to work from as far away as Europe.

The first few days of ER operations will determine if they have the right number of staff and they will adjust accordingly.

The $1.3 billion facility is expected to become fully operational later this year, reports the Sun, and will eventually have 268 inpatient beds.

Health Minister Fred Horne told the Sun that today is a "landmark day for Calgary and all of Southern Alberta."

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