The Vancouver Convention Centre is expected to open as a functioning temporary hospital by next week.
Last month, health authorities said they were considering using landmark buildings as a resource during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday afternoon, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) said that they had been working with the Canadian Red Cross and BC’s Mobile Medical Unit to open this alternate care site.
The convention centre’s West Building is scheduled to be fully functional by April 8, and will make use of Exhibition Halls A, B, and C.
The temporary hospital is designed for lower acuity patients who are less likely to require access to ICU, including those recovering from surgeries, heart attacks, injuries, and other non-COVID illnesses.
This, in turn, will allow for additional capacity at major hospitals for coronavirus patients who require critical care.
The site will be scalable with a total bed capacity of 270, roughly the same number of beds as Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.
The Canadian Red Cross used resources from its Emergency Field Hospitals to contribute 100 of those hospital beds, as well as ward kits, medical stores, and other equipment.
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A medical director and operations lead will be on-site to oversee transfers, to provide medical oversight, and to support a team of healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurses, care aides, respiratory therapists, and clerks.
The BC Mobile Medical Unit will provide more intense care for patients that need to be transferred to a major hospital if the need arises.
Patients transferred into the alternate care site will be referred from a major hospital; the temporary hospital will not be open to walk-ins.
The decision to open the site to receive patients will be the decision of the VCH Regional Emergency Operation Centre and will be based on the day-to-day assessment of the need for this extra capacity.
Health officials say that the number of staff working at the temporary care site will be determined by the number of patients, and that this number can change on a daily basis.
With files from Kenneth Chan.