Chemotherapy Suite Redevelopment, Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre

Size: 950 BGSM (10,225 BGSF)
Location: St. John’s, NL
Client: Eastern Health
Architecture: Gibbons Snow Architects Inc.
Engineering: Jewer Bailey Consultants Ltd. (M+E+S)

The new Chemotherapy Suite redevelopment at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre (DHBMCC) in St. John’s, NL was an initiative by the Cancer Care Foundation of NL in response to the increasing cancer rates in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The existing chemotherapy suite was reaching 30 years old and, despite serving the community well, could no longer meet the functional or therapeutic goals of the organization.

The primary objective of the design was to ensure optimum patient care through enhanced care environments, improved operational efficiency, and improved infection prevention and control following the pandemic. Furthermore, the foundation members felt that patient comfort and aesthetics were too often trumped by institutional drivers of economy, functionality, and infection control resulting in cold, sterile, and ominous environments. Their strong desire to alter this trend became the driving force for a new aesthetic of warmth, comfort, and visual appeal for patients and families during a difficult time.

Given the panoramic views and abundance of natural light provided by a continuous band of glazing surrounding three sides of the available space, the design maintains positive views to the exterior from all patient treatment areas and regularly occupied staff work zones. The 950 SM area is structured around a public-to-private layout, centralizing the satellite pharmacy and secure workspaces. At the same time, patient treatment spaces are arranged openly around this core, maximizing light and views. Patient privacy and staff visibility are ensured using partial walls, translucent screens, and glazing. Point of Care workstations are distributed throughout, aiding patient care, while primary nursing stations at opposite corners enhance patient visibility and care team collaboration. The surrounding corridor with dual access points streamlines staff movement and aligns with LEAN healthcare principles.

The interior finishes and treatments emphasize modernity and visitor experience by incorporating natural materials, vibrant colors, and biophilic imagery, which evoke positive emotions and stray from the stigmatic sterile clinical look. These innovative material choices meet infection control standards while offering an improved aesthetic and image. This design theme is consistent throughout the DHBMCC, providing passive wayfinding and promoting a holistic vision of wellness and well-being.

In addition to the non-traditional organization of space and the innovative approach to healthcare architectural treatments and finishes, the design team also helped the health authority develop a new design guideline for ergonomics and materials selection intended to enforce a higher standard of quality in building performance and image, for all future developments throughout the DHBMCC and the Health Sciences Centre at large.

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