Construction on Hamilton Health Sciences field hospital to start next week

The hospital will be on Wellington Street North.

Field hospital will serve as provincial resource in case health-care system faces extreme pressure

The temporary structure would be built in the footprint of the parking lot on Wellington Street North. (Google Earth)

The CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences says the hospital network is moving forward with its temporary field hospital.

Information presented in a Thursday town hall by Rob MacIsaac shows construction will begin next week. The field hospital's main purpose is to serve as a provincial resource if the health-care system faces extreme pressure.

The plan comes as the Ontario government's health agency is telling hospitals across most of the province to postpone non-emergency surgeries, effective Monday, because of the growing caseload of COVID-19 patients.

The Hamilton field hospital is set to provide 80 hospital-level beds in the footprint of its Wellington Street North parking lot, though MacIsaac said it could accommodate 100 beds.

The mobile health unit (MHU) will accommodate people nearing the end of their hospital stay, with data from the town hall showing patients will only stay for five to six days.

That would open up space inside the actual hospital for people who need more urgent care. HHS previously said it could be completed by the end of the month.

"While the opening of the MHU, I think, is a good step given the apparent challenges of the third wave, I'm really hopeful public safety measures, including the just-announced stay-at-home order and ongoing vaccine distribution, will turn the tide in the coming weeks," MacIsaac said.

The HHS field hospital is one of two field hospitals being built in Ontario right now, the other being set up by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington was the first to build a field hospital.

Satellite hospital opening new floor next week

Hamilton hospitals have 101 COVID-19 patients, according to city data from Thursday.

Dr. Ralph Meyer, HHS oncology and palliative care regional vice-president, said the city's satellite hospital at a former downtown Crowne Plaza hotel will open a new floor next week, which should help them maximize space.

"We ultimately hope to have a capacity of 90 beds with St. Joe's having an additional 60 beds," he said. "We're below that capacity at present because of some [infection, prevention and control] standards and abilities to double up in rooms."