Canadian Armed Forces medical personnel arrive at Sunnybrook to care for COVID-19 patients

Some of the Canadian Armed Forces members helping COVID-19 patients inside the field hospital at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre have arrived and started working Friday morning.

Thirty-four medical personnel made up of nurses and medical technicians from the Joint Task Force Central are helping care for non-critical patients who are recovered or nearly recovered from the virus. They will be doing patient management, patient care, EKG pacing, charting and triage.

“Frankly, this is a fantastic mission,” said Task Force PRESIDIO Commander Franz Kirk.

“My team is very excited to help and we had great volunteers from across the country to help today. Pandemic, no pandemic, when we have an opportunity to help Canadians were all in.”

Sunnybrook has said the field hospital, now called a mobile health unit, would be used as a last resort when no more beds were available within hospital buildings.

That happened on Monday when the first patient arrived. There are now six patients there and another two are expected by the end of Friday.

“Most of them are requiring some oxygen still and support, so their lungs are still recovering, but they’re not ready to go home and as a consequence of hospitalization they have functional decline so they may need physiotherapy,” said Dr. Steve Shadowitz in Sunnybrook’s Division of General Internal Medicine.

The medical personnel work different shifts. The first began at 7:30 a.m.

The members are part of the effort to help relieve the extreme stress on the Ontario’s health-care system, which has been increasingly transferring patients to make space and cancelling surgeries to help free up staff.

Canadian Armed Forces members have arrived at Sunnybrook’s field hospital to care for recovering #COVID19 patients. 34 medical personnel will be working on site over the coming weeks. First shift started at 730 a.m. @CTVToronto

— Beth Macdonell (@BethCTV) April 30, 2021

The unit has 84 beds in all but can ramp up to 100 if need be. The unit is accepting patients from across the GTA.

The Armed Forces members at Sunnybrook have previously deployed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. They are expected to be on site over the next four to six weeks.

In addition to helping staff at the unit, another nine members are assisting in Sunnybrook’s intensive care unit.

“I think what’s more important is the skills sets that we bring to the table,” said Kirk speaking about the mission to reporters.

“Because of the nature of the tasks we do on a routine basis, it allows us within scope of practice to quickly and seamlessly integrate.”