Construction has begun on a temporary pandemic response unit at Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital.
The 93-bed unit, which is being built on hospital grounds and connected to the South Tower, is in response to an anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks.
“Based on the best information we have available, on the modelling and forecasting as to when the surge would be at its peak, the information we have would be between seven and 14-plus days,” said Eric Vandewall, president and CEO of Joseph Brant.
“We decided a few weeks ago, based on this information, that we needed to have this additional capacity to respond to the surge as best as we could.”
Dr. Ian Preyra, the hospital’s chief of staff, said patients who test positive for COVID-19 will be monitored by a team of doctors who have volunteered from across Burlington.
“It will allow the hospital to cohort these patients together to have standardized care, and also free up necessary critical care capacity within the hospital building so that we can expand our ability to provide critical care to the sickest patients,” said Preyra.
He added that keeping COVID-19 patients in a separate unit will also reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
“From an infection prevention and control point of view, the pandemic response unit allows us to safely cohort patients — all of whom are COVID positive — in a confined area that we can control entrance and exit to.”
Preyra said all staff and physicians who work in the unit will be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), adding that they expect to have “sufficient supplies of PPE for all of our staff members and physicians to work safely”.
He also said they’re taking “active measures” to conserve their existing supply of PPE and stretch its use if there are more patients than expected.
However, Vandewall stressed that their first priority is the safety of their physicians, staff and patients and that PPE will not be “overused”.
Although the peak number of cases is expected in the coming weeks, Preyra said the effects of taking care of those patients may extend over several months. He also said the extra capacity will allow the hospital to more easily transition to normal operations once the pandemic has died down.
The facility is expected to be up and running by April 10.