Never used 271-bed hospital at Vancouver Convention Centre being dismantled

Jul 14 2021, 5:19 pm

There is some good news, another sign that the pandemic has turned a corner. More than 15 months after it was first set up, the field hospital inside the Vancouver Convention Centre is now in the process of being dismantled.

The temporary medical facility opened in early April 2020 in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when similar large-scale facilities were being established at coronavirus hotspots around the world. At the time, convention centres in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States took overflow COVID-19 patients.

While the temporary hospital in the exhibition hall of the West Building was not designed to serve the complex needs of COVID-19 patients, it served the same purpose by providing additional bed capacity for patients in need of non-coronavirus care — effectively freeing up bed space in real purpose-built hospitals for a large wave of COVID-19 patients.

There was a surge in COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization earlier in 2021, but BC’s hospital capacity was sufficient to meet the demand, and there was never a need to use temporary hospital facilities.

vancouver convention centre hospital

Temporary hospital inside Vancouver Convention Centre. (Vancouver Coastal Health)

With the BC restart plan now in Step 3 and the vast majority of the population vaccinated with at least a first dose, coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to see a decline. The number of coronavirus cases has fallen from a seven-day moving average of 141 cases during the week of June 12, 2021, to 47 cases as of July 12, 2021.

As of Tuesday, there are 658 active cases of COVID-19 in BC, with 66 individuals hospitalized and 14 in intensive care. Peak hospitalizations occurred at the end of April 2021, when over 500 people received treatment in acute care.

“I thank everyone who transformed the Vancouver Convention Centre into an alternate care site,” said BC health minister Adrian Dix in a statement.

“While we are fortunate that we did not have to activate the site, your dedication meant that if our hospitals were at capacity, people in Vancouver would have had a safe place to receive health care. It’s great to see the centre about to return to its original, vibrant space.”

vancouver convention centre hospital

Temporary hospital inside Vancouver Convention Centre. (Vancouver Coastal Health)

The exhibition hall of the convention centre’s West Building had a capacity of 271 beds — equivalent to the total bed capacity of Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver. It was operated under Vancouver Coastal Health’s Regional Emergency Operations Centre. The Canadian Red Cross provided some of the equipment required.

The dismantling of the temporary hospital is expected to conclude by this Friday, but contingency plans are in place should there ever be a need to remobilize the hospital. It took only just over a week to set up the facility in April 2021.

This now frees up the major space for the convention centre to pursue potential bookings, such as events that follow government health protocols, and film and television production shoots. The Imagine Van Gogh projection art exhibition, running through September 2021, is being held in the West Ballroom, immediately above the exhibition hall.

The ballroom in the East Building of the convention centre within Canada Place is still used as one of BC’s largest COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics.

vancouver convention centre west building

Vancouver Convention Centre West Building. (Shutterstock)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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