Celebrating One Year of the Phil & Jennie Gaglardi Surgical Centre


On May 5, 2021, the Phil & Jennie Gaglardi Surgical Centre at VGH officially opened for use. It features 16 new state-of-the-art operating rooms, a 40-bed perioperative care unit, new communication systems to manage activities for health professionals across two operating floors and upgraded infrastructure. These reimagined surgical suites offer surgeons, nurses and patients state-of-the-art care for some of life’s most challenging moments.

A culmination of hard work, dedication and the generosity of philanthropists and health care staff made this transformation possible—and having it realized was cause for celebration.

Groundbreaking technology

“My first day in the new OR, I couldn’t believe it. It’s a fantastic space. And that first week I got a real taste of the upgrades this surgical centre offers,” says Dr. Brian Kwon.

In his first week, Dr. Kwon, Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury and Marcel Dvorak Chair in Spine Trauma at VGH, recalls 10 surgeries he had to perform. These ranged from individuals who suffered devastating spinal trauma from hiking accidents and car crashes, to a cancerous tumour encroaching on the spine.

What stood out immediately to Dr. Kwon was the power the new, state-of-the-art technology offered to him and his team.

“The space is much larger, and the advances in technology with the imaging and the integration of it all really stands out when you get into the operating room,” says Dr. Brian Kwon. “There’s a mobile CT scanner we have where now we can put this around the patient in the OR, and use it live while we’re operating. This allows me to be incredibly precise.”

In addition to CT scanning, the OR also has a portable X-ray machine. It wraps around a patient and provides imagery in real-time, offering surgeons the power to see second-to-second what they are doing during an operation.

“The way the room is set up is such that if I’m operating, I can bring the screen that I’m looking at right in front of my face. And then my assistant, looking in the opposite direction can also have a screen brought in right in front of them. So ergonomically it’s much better, which ultimately is better for the patient,” says Dr. Kwon. “Then you can have different modalities of imaging. You can have the CT scan portrayed at the same time as the X-rays, all in real time. And all of that is seamlessly integrated in the OR.”

Reduced wait times

During Dr. Kwon’s first week he immediately saw the impact the new spaces had on surgical wait times as well.

“A gentleman fell while hiking and needed emergency surgery, which was supposed to start at 5:30 a.m.,” says Dr. Kwon. “That day, I had a planned surgery that was supposed to happen a few hours later. Now in the old ORs this planned surgery – which would have been months in the making – would have been cancelled due to this emergency. But because of the new OR configuration, that didn’t happen.”

The customization of the new space paired with new technology for these surgeries allowed for Dr. Kwon to handle both cases that day.

“I got to see it firsthand how this extra capacity helped those receiving care,” he says.

Improving recoveries

Specifically designed for patient comfort and privacy, the perioperative care spaces are enhancing care for patients even after their surgery is complete.

Each patient has their own bay. An individualized cubicle equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and a computer with access to their files, which they can discuss privately with their health care team.

“It’s easier to have a private discussion with patients about their surgery,” says Dr. Kwon. “And then what was really clever is that they put a computer on a stand for every station. You can actually take it and spin it around to show the patient, and then you can actually walk them through the imaging as well, right at the bedside.”

As a frequent user of the space, Dr. Kwon loves the enhanced experience for patients, especially during vulnerable moments in their lives

Philanthropic spark ignites innovation

Thousands of donors from across the province contributed $60 million to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation as part of the Future of Surgery campaign, joining the $145 million transformational project at both VGH and UBC Hospital.

These two centres of surgical excellence provide care for 60% of all adult trauma cases in BC, performing over 30,000 surgeries a year.

Thanks to our passionate philanthropic community, including the selfless generosity of the Gaglardi family, the new surgical centre is here to care for you and your loved ones in their moments of need.