Montreal

Opening of Place Bell overflow centre for COVID-19 patients pushed back due to staff shortage

Ten days after Laval's Place Bell was converted into an overflow location for COVID-19 patients, it still hasn't opened because there are not enough people to work there.

Laval arena set up for 50 COVID-19 patients, but it needs more staff to open

The arena in Laval was is equipped to house 50 COVID-19 patients. (Justine Roberge/Radio-Canada)

Ten days after Laval's Place Bell was converted into an overflow location for COVID-19 patients, it still hasn't opened because there are not enough people to work there. 

With hospitals filling up, the centre was set to start receiving patients on Friday. But a health board spokesperson confirmed that evening its opening has been pushed back. 

"We expect to be able to open very soon," said Judith Goudreau, a CISSS de Laval spokesperson, in an email Friday evening. A new date has been set for the area to start receiving patients.

Earlier in the day, Health Minister Danielle McCann had told reporters at the province's regular COVID-19 briefing that Place Bell was ready to open and had the staff.

"[The health board] is also opening a new site at Place Bell to have some patients go there, and [it] has the staff to do it, which is good news," McCann said.

"It's true to say that it's been difficult in Laval since many weeks and [the health board] tells us that the situation is starting to stabilize."

Another spokesperson confirmed in a phone conversation with CBC News that the Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital in Laval is at capacity because long-term care patients are being transferred there. 

But he said the hospital is equipped with overflow rooms and that no one is being turned away.

Place Bell has been converted into an overflow centre for 50 COVID-19 patients. It's unclear when it will open. (Davide Gentile/Radio-Canada)

The health board announced May 5 it would be converting Place Bell into an overflow centre for about 50 COVID-19 patients. 

At the time, Jean-François Houle, the president of the union representing Laval health-care workers, said he doubted there was enough personnel to care for the patients at the arena.

"I don't know where they are going to find the personnel because we're already missing it in the [public long-term care homes] and we also have to help out in the private residences," Houle said. 

With files from Kate McKenna and Radio-Canada

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