Burlington field hospital to start accepting COVID-19 patients this week

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A field hospital in Burlington is gearing up to accept its first COVID-19 patients this week.

Joseph Brant Hospital's Pandemic Response Unit is the first of its kind built in this province, and has been introduced to address a spike in COVID-19 cases that increases pressure on hospital capacity across the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant and Burlington 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,” says Eric Vandewall, President and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital.

This week, hospitals in the area will start to identify patients who have made progress in their recovery and could start to receive care in the all-seasons field hospital on the grounds of Joseph Brant.

“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,” says 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 in the unit include physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, and home and community care coordinators.

The idea behind the unit is to help minimize disruptions to scheduled and community care.

Any patient transfers will be determined based on care needs and in consultation with patients and their families.

“Our healthcare system is being stretched to its limits,” says 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 structure is 16,000 square feet and was built in April 2020 after the province asked hospitals to implement capacity plans at their sites. It took $2 million and just a matter of weeks to construct the 73-bed facility.

The patients who would qualify, for example, may require oxygen therapy and medication, as well as ongoing monitoring of their symptoms and some personal support.