BROCKVILLE -- Bright and early Saturday morning, with a chill in the air, the first patient was moved into the new tower at the Brockville General Hospital.

It was a moment years in the making.

"It’s monumental," said Nick Vlacholias, President and CEO of Brockville General Hospital.

"We started planning this about 20 years ago, this move over to here and consolidating all hospital services on one site." 

Thirty-nine patients were relocated from the Garden Street location into the newly built Donald B. Green Tower, taking 26 trips, which organizers say was done quickly and safely.

Brockville General Hospital

"The time limit we kind of estimated five minutes round trip for each patient," said Patty Dimopoulos, manager of the Brockville General Hospital's Operational Readiness Project.

"We actually did better than that so things went really smoothly and I think they ended up about three and a half minutes per patient to bring folks over,” said Dimopoulos.

"We began planning over a year ago for today, in terms of readying the building, readying the staff, readying processes, a tremendous amount of planning," Dimopoulos said.

"Monthly meetings started about a year ago. This week we met every day to make sure things went off without a hitch,” she added.

"We hired health care re-locators and they were phenomenal.

"They really helped create a sense of calm for our staff and our patients and rather than it feeling chaotic it felt like a celebration," Dimopoulos said.

Brockville General Hospital

The COVID-19 pandemic only hampered one part - families could no longer to attend the move.

"Our care team is making calls to all the families to let them know that their loved one is settled and doing well, provide all the key information that they need and then visits will be able to start (Sunday)," Dimopoulos stated.

The Brockville General Hospital used the Garden Street location since 2006 and the keys will be turned over to the Sisters of Providence, who own the building, on Dec. 1. 

It’s unclear what the building will be used for in the future. The hospital will spend the next six weeks to remove useful equipment from site.

"We will take our time and go through the building to make sure that any surplus equipment that we can use on this site we’ll bring over (to the new location)," Vlacholias said.

For staff and patients, moving out was bittersweet.

"I think each site had their own experience," said Dimopoulos.

"It was quite emotional over at Garden Street as patients were leaving and the staff was leaving so that was really touching. And then over here it was a bit more of the celebration so we kind of got it all today.”

Heading into the new space, patients were in awe of the bright atmosphere and stunning views, along with the new equipment to help them on their journey to recovery.

"They can look out of the windows, they were just totally amazed with the view especially on level 3 and 2," Vlacholias said.

"I’m very proud of the staff, our physicians, our professionals that helped us move. We had about 40 staff who helped us in excess of what we have working day to day to help with a smooth transfer today," said Vlacholias.

"It’s a very proud moment for Brockville General Hospital and the community so thank you very much to the community, the province of Ontario, there's so many people I want to thank."