State-of-the-art tools for KGH operations

The Interior Heart and Surgical Centre at Kelowna General Hospital is scheduled to open in September, 2015.

Dr. Gary Goplen explains the benefits of the state-of-the-art operating equipment coming to Kelowna General Hospital.

Billing it as the most high tech heart surgical facility in B.C. and rivalling anything else in Canada, Kelowna General Hospital is looking forward to a September 2015 opening for its Interior Heart and Surgical Centre.

The four-storey building dominates the corner of Pandosy Street and Rose Avenue. It’s a hive of activity as construction crews complete their tasks while the hospital community continues its daily routine.

Inside the new building, Doug Rankmore, CEO of the KGH Foundation, looks in some amazement as the complex of 15 operating rooms take on character with massive pieces of machinery starting to populate the spaces.

“This is the raceway around the ORs,” Rankmore said, looking either way along a wide corridor—one side of four that surround the rooms where the business of surgery will soon be performed, deep steel sinks fitted outside each doorway.

“All the ORs are accessed from the outside in, and the inside is a sterile core.”

Having watched the process from planning to construction, Rankmore was excited to now see the rooms be outfitted with surgical equipment.

“It’s becoming very real. The last time we were in the building there wasn’t even paint on the walls, certainly none of the booms were in,” he said.

ceiling mounted infrastructure

Throughout these ORs the booms, each costing up to $450,000 before they are outfitted with surgical equipment, are suspended from the ceiling—for good reason, Rankmore explained.

“If you look in a traditional OR there is a fair amount of equipment on the floor. The booms replace a lot of that—it gets it up and easier to sterilize everything.”

A sterile environment is a huge deal in any hospital. The entire design of this facility starts with how to let cleaning staff get at everything—right out to door hinges.

Additionally, the off-floor booms are out of the way to facilitate easy access by the surgical team to the patient and equipment.

“Increasingly as we get more techniques we need new equipment,” said Dr. Gary Goplen, co-chairman of the KGH Foundation Be a Lifesaver Campaign. A former chief of surgery at KGH, Goplen said the design and layout of the ORs take future growth into consideration. “The new equipment takes up room.”

Used to cramped quarters, surgeons and the five of six specialists in these ORs will have room to carry out their functions. “With this sort of set up there will be lots of room for patient management, and for teams who come in to help. Suffice to say these rooms are state-of-the-art—we can offer big city surgery in here,” he said.

It was up to Dr. Guy Fradet, co-chair of the fundraising campaign with Goplen, to explain the piéce de résistance in the IHSC—the hybrid operating room.

“It’s two rooms together,” Fradet said. “It brings the state-of-the-art equipment in surgery and the state-of-the-art equipment in imaging together.”

In addition to the booms holding surgical support equipment, the hybrid room will have an imaging machine anchored in the corner, but attached to the operating table. When the surgeon needs a fresh view, a ‘C’ arm comes out and rotates around the patient taking 3D images, which are broadcast on a big HD screen. What was a separate function done pre-op in another part of the hospital, will be done in a matter of seconds while the operation proceeds.

Fradet used the example of blending a CAT scan and echo imaging into one visual. “We can program the machine and in about eight seconds we can have a 3D image of the heart.” Inserting a heart valve, for instance, the machine shows the heart and gives real-time landmarks for the surgeon to follow.

“It isn’t just the rooms,” Goplen said, acknowledging the powers that let it all come about—government funding and private donation.

“We have been so fortunate that the government has given us the opportunity to have these buildings to drive the services, but also the very generous donors have helped us to equip these rooms.

“These large, modern rooms wouldn’t be anything without the tools that the KGH Foundation (fundraising campaign) has provided us with.

“It gives us room for growth,” Goplen said.

Rankmore said the foundation is $2 million short of its $12 million campaign goal for equipping the new facility.

Next up on the Be A Lifesaver fundraising agenda is the Big White Sweater Ball on Dec. 13. at Happy Valley on the mountain. With a reception at 6:30 and dinner at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $75 from or call 250-491-6101.

Contact the KGH Foundation directly at