Ontario’s first field hospital built during the pandemic is now taking patients as surging COVID-19 cases continue to put immense pressure on health-care systems across the province.
The facility in Burlington was built on the grounds of Joseph Brant Hospital in April as part of the hospital network’s capacity plan. It was ready to start treating patients as of Monday.
The hospital says it’s responding to increased pressure on hospital capacity across the southern Ontario region that includes Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand County and Burlington.
This comes as Ontario reports more surging case counts with over 3,000 new infections being reported for two straight days, along with 51 additional deaths being reported on Tuesday.
The Ontario Hospital Association said that COVID-19 patients in the intensive care have now surpassed a record set in the first wave of the pandemic. That number now sits at 369 patients across the province with 45 people admitted to the ICU over the last 24 hours.
Rob MacIsaac, CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, says the field hospital is a necessary step to provide relief to a health-care system that has been stretched to its limits.
Hospitals in the region are now consulting with patients and their families with the hopes of identifying individuals who can be moved to the field hospital. Ideal candidates are patients whose care has progressed enough that they can be safely treated at the field unit.
Despite the arrival of vaccines and a province-wide lockdown in effect, the OHA is predicting that things will continue to get worse for hospitals through January and February.
In a statement provided to the Globe and Mail, OHA president Anthony Dale says he expects those months to be “absolutely brutal.”
With files from the Canadian Press.