Verdun Hospital adding 36 beds by winter in preparation for COVID-19 second wave

The hospital is adding a modular building to house patients who do not have COVID-19 until a major expansion is completed in three years.

Hospital had to reduce number of beds after coronavirus outbreak last spring

A security guard stands in front of the emergency unit of the Verdun Hospital in April, as the hospital dealt with an outbreak of COVID-19. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

A new building is being constructed at the Verdun Hospital to house patients when the second wave of COVID-19 cases hits the province later this year.

An outbreak at the hospital left several doctors and dozens of patients infected in early April, prompting the hospital to reduce its number of beds to about 160, or 60 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity.

The hospital will have 36 more beds when the building opens, likely this winter, said Sonia Bélanger, head of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.

Those beds will be in single-occupancy rooms on the second floor, reserved for patients who do not have COVID-19.

The first floor will be used for hematology-oncology treatment.

Bélanger said this will allow the facility to have a "hospital within a hospital" to keep patients safe as they modernize the building.

She said the regional health authority underwent "an enormous amount of learning" during the first wave, which will allow them to be better prepared for a second wave of infections.

The Health Ministry says the building, most of which is prefabricated, will cost about $32 million.

The hospital, founded in 1932, is in the middle of a major expansion and renovation expected to be completed in 2023.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said keeping patients separated would be "key" in fighting the second wave. He said the government is looking at how adding prefabricated units to other hospitals could help provide the needed space.

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