By: Michaela Ream
The new Calgary Cancer Centre was designed with input from the people who will actually use it. Along with architects, developers and designers, the cancer centre’s building and design direction involved input from the Patient and Family Advisory Council. Formed in 2014, the Patient and Family Advisory Council consists of patients, family members and cancer centre staff who have been touched by cancer, whether in their own lives or through a loved one. The council offers feedback about how to address and improve the patient experience, and has been consulting on the creation of the Calgary Cancer Centre since its inception.
“All of the council has been touched by cancer, whether it was a loved one or themselves. They came forward to participate because they wanted to make the cancer journey better for patients and families,” says Caroline Hatcher, executive director at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and co-chair of the Patient and Family Advisory Council.
In 2018, patient and family advisors and staff inscribed stones with names and personal messages of hope. The stones were placed into the foundation of the building as a permanent inclusion of lasting support.
The Calgary Centre Centre will have two MR Linacs, making it the third hospital in Canada to treat patients using this leading-edge equipment and the first centre to have two MR Linacs. Previously only available in Toronto, these machines offer the most advanced radiation therapy for treatment of tumours that combines a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner with a linear accelerator. The MR Linacs deliver more precise radiation and can target tumours that move with respiratory motion or are close to healthy organs that need to be avoided.
A Building-Wide Hug
The Patient and Family Advisory Council was instrumental in the overall design of the building. Members wanted it to look and feel warm, caring and welcoming. As a result, the shape of the Calgary Cancer Centre is designed to represent a hug with a central courtyard connected by two L-shaped arms forming an embrace.
Care For All
Appropriate lighting, minimal glare, matte flooring and high-contrast colours to distinguish floors from walls and furniture from walls will help make the cancer centre accommodating for all patients and visitors, including older adults and those living with disabilities. The centre will also support children and younger cancer patients with welcoming and friendly paediatric radiation medicine spaces.
Wellness Inside and Out
Nature themes and connection to the outdoors are present throughout the cancer centre so patients, families, visitors and staff can connect with nature and heal in a relaxing and welcoming environment. Outdoor pathways, seating areas and an eighth-floor rooftop garden provide places to step outside when needed. The building also features large windows throughout to offer abundant natural light, including in the basement radiation treatment areas. Inside, murals of wildlife and local scenery decorate the walls.
Patients at the centre will be able to order snacks or meals from the comfort of their inpatient rooms. New bedside technology will help facilitate a seamless ordering process.
By The Numbers:
100+ patient exam rooms
160 inpatient unit beds
90 chemotherapy chairs
12 radiation vaults (three more vault placements available for future growth)
New on-site underground parking with 1,650 stalls
6,200+ square metres of outdoor accessible spaces