Windsor Regional Hospital is partnering with the University of Windsor to establish a downtown space for a future COVID-19 vaccination site.

WRH announced Thursday that the Windsor Hall building, located at Pitt and Ferry streets, houses the School of Social Work and the Department of Continuing Education and is being transformed for vaccination needs.

The building houses the university’s School of Social Work and the Department of Continuing Education.

“This project is part of the University of Windsor’s commitment to do as much as possible to help the community address the impact of COVID-19,” said UWindsor president Robert Gordon. “We are proud to partner with Windsor Regional Hospital on these efforts to help our community move beyond the current pandemic.”

WRH president and CEO David Musyj said they are thankful for use of the space.

“Thank you to the University of Windsor for your generosity in agreeing to the use of this great space for the benefit of our community in our fight against COVID-19,” said Musyj.

Vaccinations will continue at the St. Clair College Sportsplex, where the hospital has inoculating individuals with the Pfizer vaccine as part of the province’s Phase 1 vaccination rollout plan.

“We look forward to continuing to work with both the University of Windsor and St. Clair College as important and dedicated community partners in the months ahead,” added Musyj.

More than 8,000 staff from long-term care and retirement homes, hospitals and congregate care settings have received initial vaccinations to date at the Sportsplex.

WRH officials say Windsor Hall allows for expanded capacity and will serve as a “backup” plan in the event the Sportsplex in south Windsor is required for use again as a field hospital for patients.

“We wanted to make sure, immediately, is if tomorrow we have to put patients back in the St. Clair Sportsplex because of demand, and we can’t run vaccinations out of there, we have an immediate backup to run a substantial amount of vaccinations on a daily basis,” he said.

With the way the pandemic has been evolving, Musyj says things could change quickly, so the hospital has to be proactive.

“It’s going to be put to good use, at some point, it’s just a matter of when that some point is,” he says.

For now, the freezers at Windsor Hall are empty, but Musyj says they are ready to go when needed.

“I was just on a call with General (Rick) Hillier and he said, ‘get ready, we are going to go, in effect, famine to feast’, we’re gonna go from very little vaccines, but we have to be ready, as a region, to vaccinate at least 10,000 people a day, and when he says to be ready, he means like, next month,” he says.

Also, once we enter subsequent phases of Ontario’s vaccination rollout plan including eventual vaccinations of the general public, Windsor Hall will be in place as one of several vaccination centres in the region.

"We’re going to need both to be running, simultaneously, plus some other areas as well across the city and the county," Musyj says.

Hospital officials say the timing of its opening is unknown at this time and is dependent on further Pfizer vaccination supply in coming weeks.

- With files from CTV Windsor's Michelle Maluske