Hospital’s medical team to number 2,500

After five years of ongoing construction, the newest Calgary hospital – South Health Campus – is finally beginning to open its doors. Located in Auburn Bay, this titanic building will gradually be running three MRI machines, 11 operating rooms and nearly 300 patient rooms. To keep the hospital running smoothly, South Health Campus is also becoming a new home for 2,500 medical staff.

Although portions of the campus are up and running – specifically cardiac and internal medicine departments – the hospital will not be fully operational until late 2013. With operating rooms scheduled to open in early 2013, and emergency by the last few months of 2013, South Health Campus has time to prepare staff and treatment through the gradual phases.

The South Health Campus, Calgary’s newest hospital, has started opening its doors. The remainder of the hospital is scheduled to open in 2013.

Photo by Larissa Pinhal

Dr. Cheri Nijssen-Jordan, the facility medical director for South Health Campus, says that between 150 and 200 doctors with various specialties will be centered there. As well, the hospital will include a family practice of nine doctors that will spread care between a potential 4,000 patients by July 2013.

With over 30 years as a medical professional, Nijssen-Jordan brings plenty of leadership experience to the table. She has been both the director of the emergency department at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, as well as the senior medical lead for Alberta Health Services to improve access and wait times.

Today, she manages all aspects of South Health Campus including customary delivery of medical health services. As medical director, Nijssen-Jordan is in charge of providing a link between Alberta Health Services medical staff and administration.

Doctors at the South Health Campus will also be linked in with a primary care network and their professionals. This collaboration aims to optimize care within Calgary through communication between the partners and co-ordinating medical services such as maternity care.

Nijssen-Jordan says the hospital is “bringing in a lot of new employees and grads from Alberta and outside the province,” to fill the staffing needs of South Health Campus.

United Nurses of Alberta also plays a role in mixing new graduates and skilled experienced caregivers into South Health Campus’s workforce. On behalf of 25,000 nurses, United Nurses of Alberta negotiates working conditions for the approximately 1,000 registered nurses that South Health Campus will eventually gain.

Karen Craik represents United Nurses of Alberta and its nurses as elected executive officer for Alberta, as well as secretary treasurer. Craik is also one of the trustees of the South Health Campus worksite, and acts to benefit the nurses and their employment positions. This enables her to have “frequent discussions with Alberta Health Services human resources on the hiring and planned openings.”

Although a high demand for nurses exists, Alberta Health Services and South Health Campus are hiring nurses and conducting orientations in stages. Craik says that shortages in specialized areas such as the intensive care unit and operating room are a concern. However, in preparation, Alberta Health Services is increasing operating room courses for nurses who want an opportunity to pursue that option.

Melissa Pereira is one health-care worker who wants to pursue opportunities at South Health Campus. Pereira, a unit clerk who currently works in labour and delivery at Peter Lougheed Centre, says benefits of the new hospital will not only reach patients but the staff as well: “This will help us grow within the fields that we specialize in. (It will) open up opportunities for our scope of knowledge as doctors, nurses and attendants.”

lpinhal@cjournal.ca