A year and a half after London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont., took preventative measures in case COVID-19 infections overwhelmed the hospital system, the health organization is decommissioning its field hospital.
Located in the Agriplex on the Western Fair Ground, the facility had 144 beds with the option to expand to 500 if needed.
Despite daily cases numbering in the hundreds at the height of the pandemic, the facility was never put to use.
“The field hospital ensured we had a plan early in the pandemic to care for our community and respond to high inpatient volumes,” said Carol Young-Richie, LHSC executive vice-president, chief nursing officer and vice-president, professional practice, medicine, critical care and family medicine.
While the site was not used for housing patients, Young-Richie noted during Monday’s COVID-19 media briefing, that it did make setting up the mass vaccination clinic at the Agriplex much easier and faster.
She also said that since its initial construction, hospital staff have found other ways to add capacity if it is needed in the future.
The temporary hospital was set up in partnership between LHSC, Western Fair District, the City of London, and other community partners.
At the time work first went into building the facility, the region had only seen a total of 150 cases on April 7, 2020, and there were many unknowns about the effects of the COVID-19 virus and how bad the pandemic would get or how long it would last.
At the time, acting LHSC president Neil Johnson said the facility was ready if needed, but the hope was that it would never get used.
“You need to be ready because, by the time you know you need it, it’s a bit late to start setting it up,” Dr. Ian Ball, a critical care physician told reporters back in April 2020.
While the field hospital is being decommissioned, Young-Ritchie wanted to make it clear that the pandemic is still a very real issue, with COVID-19 cases once again rising throughout Ontario.
On Tuesday the Middlesex London Health Unit reported 33 new cases and two new deaths for a total of 15,124 cases in the region, including 254 deaths and 14,595 people who have recovered.