Rising 22 stories high and four floors below ground, the new Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) is the largest hospital in Quebec and contains one of the largest cancer treatment centers in Canada. The extensive size and scope of the cancer treatment center is designed to respond to the increasing demand for cancer services in Montreal, Quebec, and across Northeast Canada and the Maritimes.

While the building design and its size are unique and impressive on their own, the way care is delivered within the cancer center, and the breakthroughs in research, are also hallmarks of the cancer care philosophy at CHUM. We’ve highlighted three ways CHUM is a model for other providers to follow in the future:

Breakthroughs in Immunotherapy
Oncologists at CHUM are harnessing technological advances in immunotherapy to treat patients in both the hospital and ambulatory clinic. Located in the adjacent Université de Montréal Hospital Research Centre (a building designed and completed by a separate consortium in 2014), a cleanroom cultures cells for clinical treatment using an advanced closed-system cell sorter – one of only about 20 such units in the world, and the first of its kind in Canada.

The final cellular product – produced at the Centre d’excellence en thérapie cellulaire at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont of CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’île-de-Montréal – is then injected into CHUM patients as part of their personalized treatment. Scientists and oncologists at CHUM are currently using immunotherapy for patients who are no longer responding to standard treatments – targeting some of the most aggressive cancers and late-stage diagnoses.

CHUM’s standing as a center of academic medical excellence and its strategic research partnerships is helping to foster breakthroughs in cancer care.

Unmatched Cancer Treatment Capacity
As one of the most comprehensive cancer treatment centers in North America, its total size equals 125,513 sf in combined inpatient and outpatient areas. The CHUM Integrated Cancer Center (CICC) is recognized by the Department of Cancer and Social Services (DMC) as a supra-regional center for the specialties and treatment of complex cancers. In addition, as a center of regional expertise, CHUM is designated as a BrachyAcademy educational center for multiple specialties and a global Training Center in Brachytherapy techniques.

Located on two floors below grade, the CHUM’s radiation oncology department houses a wide array of technologically advanced treatment options, including:

  • 10 linear accelerator vaults (with two more planned in Phase 2)
  • 2 high-dose brachytherapy vaults
  • 2 MRI rooms
  • 2 CT and 1 PET/CT scanners

Of the 12 vaults, two include TomoTherapy, one houses a CyberKnife, and one is dedicated to a VERO®, the most advanced stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) system available in the world and only found in a handful of locations in North America.

Located on the top two floors of the ambulatory tower, the cancer center houses medical oncology spaces to support ambulatory oncology clinics and the infusion center — including 67 exam rooms, 58 infusion bays with stunning views of the city, dedicated lab spaces, a dedicated USP 797 & 800 compliant infusion pharmacy, and dedicated administrative and clinical offices.

Human-Centered Design
While treatment approaches and breakthrough technology are most critical to helping cancer patients, CHUM also offers important access to nature and opportunities for respite to elevate the patient experience. Breaking down the project’s scale, public space components are woven into the campus to make it as open, transparent and welcoming as possible. To eliminate the confusion that is inherent with large, complex medical centers, the space provides clear and supportive visual cues to reinforce a path of travel with defined destinations to assure patients and visitors.

CHUM includes a number of publicly accessible rooftops gardens that recall medicinal herbs dating from the founding of New France. Expansive windows in patient rooms, waiting areas and infusion treatment spaces offer some of the best views of the city. The same consideration for access to nature and daylight is applied to staff zones and lounges that provide views to the surrounding landscape and balconies to support moments of respite and reflection.

An expansive public art collection, integrated throughout both the inpatient and outpatient areas, is intended to reduce stress, provide moments of reflection, and support wayfinding. One piece in particular, “La vie en montagne,” provides an uplifting experience in the outpatient clinic using mosaics of ‘‘radiant’’ words that make up its mountain peaks.

Each of these elements contributes to the innovative care delivery model at CHUM, setting a new precedent, particularly for the design of public healthcare, and generating a new era in cancer treatment within Montreal and beyond.

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