Province to open pandemic-concentrated hospital in Vaughan to help manage surge in cases

By Lucas Casaletto

In what appears to be the first of its kind, the provincial government says a new hospital committed strictly to containing COVID-19 and treating patients with the virus will open in Vaughan.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement alongside Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, saying Ontario’s government is providing up to $125 million to add over 500 critical care and high-intensity medicine beds to hospitals in the hardest-hit areas.

Ford says the “state of the art establishment” will be devoted to nursing COVID-19 patients when it opens officially on February 7.

“The Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital is the first newly built hospital in three decades and this net new capacity will be critical until we are in a position to widely administer vaccines across the province,” said Premier Ford.

“I want to especially thank Mackenzie Health for stepping up to allow us to temporarily use this new facility to support our COVID-19 response and take pressure off other hospitals in the region. It’s these kinds of innovative partnerships that make a world of difference in our fight against this deadly virus.”

Ontario’s government has long-looked at designating one, or potentially several hospitals used only to treat COVID-19 patients.

A similar approach has been underway in Saskatchewan, where the province’s health authority appointed certain hospitals as COVID-only facilities as part of its defensive strategy.

Bevilacqua says Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital is the first hospital to be built in the City and the first net-new hospital to be built in Ontario in more than 30 years.

The new hospital will provide 185 beds, including over 35 critical care beds and 150 general medicine beds, which the Ford government says “will support patients from other hospitals and alleviate hospital capacity pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Once COVID-19 capacity stabilizes, the hospital will provide care and services to patients from across the western York Region, including emergency and modern surgical services, among others.

In early December, the heads of Mackenzie Health Network, Markham Stouffville, and Southlake Regional Health Centre cited a rapidly rising number of coronavirus patients that pushed their hospitals to the brink of a capacity crisis.

According to the Globe and Mail, as COVID-19 continues to greatly affect regions in and across the GTA, the province approached Mackenzie Health about using Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital as part of its fight against the virus.

Mackenzie Health’s latest hospital and ICU data:

  • Total number of COVID-19 positive patients being cared for in hospital: 47
  • Number of COVID-19 positive patients being cared for in an intensive care unit: 9
  • Number of COVID-19 positive patients on ventilator: 8
  • Number of inpatients under investigation for COVID-19: 33


“Our government is using every tool at our disposal to support our hospitals as they respond to COVID-19,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

“This new funding will help to alleviate capacity pressures being faced by hospitals, allowing our health care system to work more seamlessly and effectively to keep Ontarians safe. We will continue to work together with all our hospitals and health care partners to care for those affected by this deadly virus.”

The province has been under a state of emergency and stay-at-home order since Thursday, which gives Ford the authority to close additional businesses, ban events and gatherings, and further emphasize the need to keep people at home with the new laws.

RELATED: Woodbridge long-term care home gets support from Mackenzie Health

The latest modelling revealed outbreaks have been reported across almost all public health units, with 91 outbreaks and 37 percent “occurring in priority vaccination areas of Toronto, Peel, York, and Windsor-Essex.

That same day, health officials confirmed that ICU occupancy is now over 400 beds with more surgeries being cancelled as a result. Projections put ICU occupancy around 500 beds by mid-January with the potential of over 1,000 beds in February “in more severe but realistic scenarios.”

Ontario is reporting 2,578 new cases of COVID-19 today and 24 more deaths linked to the virus.

The province is reporting that more than 40,300 tests were completed since the last daily update.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 815 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Toronto and 507 in Peel Region.

There were 9,691 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered since Ontario’s last daily report.

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