On the arena floor, under the Owen Sound Attack score clock, Grey Bruce Health Services’ 75-bed field hospital is now ready for use at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, should the region experience a surge in COVID-19 cases.
GBHS president and CEO Gary Sims said the temporary medical facility is one of two field hospitals in southwestern Ontario – the other is in London – and could also treat, if required, patients from outside Grey-Bruce.
“There are local plans, regional plans and then there are provincial plans,” he said in an interview during a media tour of the facility Thursday morning.
“In all of that, everything we have from PPE resources, beds and human resources are all in one provincial plan. In that plan, it identifies all the resources around the province and then, should there be a hot spot or an area that gets overloaded, we could either move patients into areas like these to support them or we could move manpower to support in their region.”
As an example, Sims said if Barrie or Collingwood medical facilities were to become overloaded with COVID-19 patients, the Owen Sound field hospital could take those patients as well.
Sims said so far the intent is for the field hospital to serve as a dedicated site for COVID-19 patients.
It will be used only if capacity is exceeded at GBHS’s current hospitals, which now have occupancy ranging from 50 to 70 per cent.
He said the hope continues to be that the field hospital will not be required.
“The goal here was to be ready for the absolute worst scenario. We think we are ready,” he said.
“We’ve created a lot of surge capacity within our acute care hospitals. This is here to service whatever part of the health-care system needs us now and into the future.”
Work on the field hospital began in late March. Sims said the facility is now “ready to go.”
The temporary hospital has seven nursing stations placed down the middle of the J.D. McArthur Arena floor. Freestanding pods, with up to six hospital beds in each, have been set up on both sides of the floor.
The facility has been set up so medical professionals can conduct laboratory testing and receive results right away on-site and X-rays can be taken and read at each bedside, Sims said.
Oxygen and suction are also available at each bed.
“We have the capacity to care for 75 medical patients. We will not do heavy monitoring like ICU (intensive care), but anything else below that we can manage,” he said.
The Zamboni doors to the Lumley-Bayshore can be used as ambulance bays for patients, he added.
Officials at the neighbouring Best Western Inn on the Bay have offered to provide a wing of the hotel for medical staff should the field hospital be activated.
Sims said the field hospital has been designed and built so it can be taken down, stored by GBHS and set up again should the need arise. That includes a quick setup if a second wave of COVID-19 occurs at a later time.
“Almost anybody could go into this. If you look into the future of it, whether it’s COVID or not, it could be used for floods, fires, another pandemic or epidemic down the road. It could basically be set up anywhere to support whatever those needs might be,” he said.
GBHS has an order that allows the field hospital to be in place until June 1, but that can be extended by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care if the facility is required.
The field hospital in London, Ont., has 180 beds, but can expand to 500 beds if needed.
Grey-Bruce had 42 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, with 10 of those recovered. One COVID-19 patient is currently hospitalized in Grey-Bruce.
One facility – Maple View long-term care home in Owen Sound – has a COVID-19 outbreak.