Ontario’s first-of-its-kind COVID-19 field hospital opened this week in Burlington, with doctors hoping it will take the pressure off southern Ontario hospitals reaching their limits for patient care.
The pandemic response unit, built on the grounds of Joseph Brant Hospital, was ready to treat patients as of Monday. It will take on recovering COVID-19 patients from hospitals in Hamilton, Niagara and Burlington areas and beyond.
“The pandemic response unit was built to ensure that should the need arise, we would have additional bed capacity available to care for COVID-19 patients – and that time is now,” says Eric Vandewall, the hospital’s president and CEO, in a statement.
The unit is housed in a temporary structure, on hospital grounds connected to the main building by a tunnel. Inside are 73 beds, each in their own small alcove to give patients some privacy. The air in the building is also specially pressurized and filtered to reduce the danger of virus transmission.
Built in April 2020, the 16,000-square-foot unit will soon receive patients for the first time.
It will treat “COVID-19 patients whose condition has stabilized but require support that cannot be provided at home, such as oxygen therapy and medication, as well as ongoing monitoring of their symptoms and some personal support,” says Dr. Ian Preyra, the hospital’s chief of staff, in a statement.
Joseph Brant Hospital says the site will be staffed with doctors, nurses, patient care assistants and other support professionals, including respiratory therapists, speech pathologists and community care coordinators. Patients will also have the same visitor privileges as those in the main wing of the hospital.
Aside from Joseph Brant Hospital, patients will come from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Hamilton Health Sciences, and Niagara Health.
The goal is to allow regional hospitals to take care of as many patients as possible during the second wave, while minimizing the disruption to care for non-COVID-19 patients.
“Our healthcare system is being stretched to its limits,” says Rob MacIsaac, the president and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences, in a statement.
“Opening the pandemic response unit is a necessary step in our continued efforts to preserve critical hospital capacity for the sickest patients.”
With files from The Canadian Press