Hamilton Health Sciences takes down field hospital that didn't see a single COVID-19 patient

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is taking down its field hospital, put in place as part of COVID-19 preparedness, after never getting a single chance to use it.

HHS staff memo says Ont. ordered hospital network to shut facility set up for possible COVID-19 use

The Hamilton Health Sciences field hospital was built to treat people hospitalized due to COVID-19, but it was never used. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is taking down its field hospital after never getting a chance to use it.

In a staff memo on June 30, the hospital network said the Ontario Ministry of Health ordered HHS to decommission the field hospital, effective immediately. HHS expects to have it down by early September.

"A tremendous amount of work went into planning, constructing, staffing and equipping the state-of-the-art Hamilton Mobile Health Unit to ensure it was ready to receive patients from across Ontario if needed," read the memo.

"Hundreds of people were involved, and HHS is proud to have been part of this pandemic response initiative, along with our local, regional, provincial and federal partners."

Despite all this, spokesperson Wendy Stewart confirmed the field hospital never served a single patient.

WATCH: Drone footage of Hamilton field hospital:

Drone footage of the Hamilton Health Sciences field hospital

1 year ago
Duration 1:48
A drone flies over the Hamilton Health Sciences field hospital on Wellington Street North.

The "last resort" structure was built in the footprint of its Wellington Street North parking lot to alleviate the pressures of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on intensive-care units.

It was slated to be ready by the end of April, but the province didn't give HHS approval right away, which pushed back the opening to May 31. 

By then, COVID-19 cases were already falling.

"It's come along very well ... looking very unlikely that we will ever use it, but it certainly has been of value to see it there as we think about what could've been the trajectory of COVID," Sharon Pierson, HHS chief operating officer and executive vice-president of clinical operations, said during a town hall meeting on May 20.

It's unclear how much it cost to build the field hospital and who paid for it.


Bobby Hristova is a reporter for CBC News in Hamilton. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.


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