40th Anniversary Flashback: The Opening and Progress of the Heart Institute

May 10, 2016

It was on May 11, 1976, that Phase 1 of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute opened for business. What began in 1969, as the Cardiac Unit of The Ottawa Hospital, took a major step toward becoming the internationally recognized cardiac centre that it is today.

“It was a very exciting time,” recalled Heart Institute founder Wilbert Keon, MD.

Phase 1 consisted of the new Life Support facility and the existing East Lawn Pavilion that had been expanded and remodelled to house the patient wards. To begin with, the Institute had three operating rooms, three catheterization labs, 30 beds for intensive and coronary care patients.

Dr. Keon’s vision from the beginning was to create an integrated heart centre where cardiology, surgery, anesthesiology and nursing all came together to determine the best approach for each patient.

Opened in 1983, Phase 2 consisted of five upper stories that were built on top of the below-ground Life Support facility. This added much new space and modern (for the time) patient rooms. Phase 2 also saw the opening of the Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre.

Phase 3, built on the site of the Pavilion, added the Research Centre, atrium and cafeteria in 1989.

Today, along with celebrations for four decades of life saving care, the Heart Institute looks forward to its latest expansion targeted for completion in the winter of 2017. This new wing will bring more than 145,000 sq. ft. of additional space, expanding capacity for surgery, cardiac catheterizations, electrophysiology procedures and critical care beds.

With the dizzying pace of medical advances, one can only imagine what the Ottawa Heart Institute of 2056 will look like.

Our 40th Anniversary Flashback series will continue throughout 2016.