First Ontario COVID-19 field hospital opens for patients this week

Jan 5 2021, 6:52 am

The first Ontario COVID-19 field hospital, built during the pandemic, will open this week to help patients recovering from the virus.

Located in Burlington, the Joseph Brant Hospital’s Pandemic Response Unit (PRU) – the first of its kind built in Ontario – will open this week to alleviate the pressure on hospital capacity across the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant and Burlington (HNHBB) region.

“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,” said Eric Vandewall, president and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital (JBH), in a statement.

Starting this week, hospitals will identify patients who have progressed in their recovery but need monitoring.

“The Pandemic Response Unit was built to care for 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,” said Dr. Ian Preyra, Chief of Staff at Joseph Brant Hospital.

“Transitioning these individuals to the PRU allows them to complete their recovery in an inpatient unit that is specifically designed to provide the type of care they need.”

The healthcare teams working in the PRU comprise physicians, nurses, patient care assistants, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, home and community care coordinators, and many others.

The PRU serves as a regional resource that can receive patients from four hospitals that are providing acute COVID-19 care: Joseph Brant Hospital, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Hamilton Health Sciences (Hamilton General Hospital) and Niagara Health.

“Our healthcare system is being stretched to its limits,” said Rob MacIsaac, President and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences and IMS co-chair. “Opening the Pandemic Response Unit is a necessary step in our continued efforts to preserve critical hospital capacity for the sickest patients. All of the region’s hospitals are working closely together to ensure that care can be delivered safely with limited disruption to patients.”

The field hospital includes “a filtered, negative pressure ventilation system,” allowing for treatments that may generate aerosols to be safely performed. It also has “durable, easy-to-disinfect surfaces” and other features to provide “a comfortable environment for patients” such as natural light, portable laptop tables and free WiFi to connect with their loved ones during their stay.

The 16,000-square-foot structure was constructed in April 2020, after the Ontario government requested that hospitals implement capacity plans at their sites.