Outaouais health authority converts Quality Inn into medical facility

The Quality Inn hotel on rue Bellehumeur has been turned a medical facility with 116 rooms currently housing around 30 patients, both with COVID-19 and other medical ailments.

Can accommodate both COVID-19 patients and other patients who need daily care

Western Quebec's health unit has converted the Quality Inn on rue Bellehumeur into a medical facility to deal with the overflow of patients created by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)

The health authority in western Quebec has taken creative steps to address the region's hospital bed shortage by converting a Gatineau, Que., hotel into a medical facility for people with COVID-19 and other ailments.

For the second time since the pandemic started, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) has made major changes to the Quality Inn on rue Bellehumeur, with 116 rooms currently housing around 30 patients. 

"We have nurses, nurses' aides, we have doctors that come in and work with our patients. We also have personal assistants," said Suzanne Denis, who works with seniors for CISSSO. "We also have access to all of the staff that's available to home care."

Gatineau is currently deemed a "red zone" by the province of Quebec, which comes with the toughest COVID-19 restrictions. The health authority said it didn't want to be caught unprepared if a lot of people suddenly get sick. 

The hotel itself is now zoned into different areas: the cold zone (green), the warm zone (yellow) and the hot zone (red).

The cold zone is for patients who don't have COVID-19 but need care or supervision on a daily basis, and includes people waiting to go into long-term care. 

The warm zone is for patients who have COVID-19 symptoms or who've come in contact with the virus. They're isolated or monitored for 14 days to see if they need to go into the red zone, which is for patients who've tested positive.

Those patients stay in isolation at the hotel until they've recovered from COVID-19.

The lobby of the Quality Inn in Gatineau, Que., which has been converted into a medical facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors are required to wear a mask and sanitize their hands upon arrival. (Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)

Stéphane Pleau, CISSSO's director of technical services and logistics, said it took them three weeks to convert the hotel and make it safe for patients.

Each zone has its own access to prevent cross-contamination, meaning patients and staff have to leave the building to go from one area to another.

"We had to zone it in different different categories for the warm, cold and hot zones so that we can have beds for different types of clientele," Pleau said.

A hospital bed in one of the rooms at the Quality Inn. (Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)

For now, patients' meals are still prepared off-site — but CISSSO says that should soon change as hospital staff are about to take over the hotel's kitchen.

"It'll allow the employees to have more time to spend with the residents while they're eating, while they're having activities," Denis said. "They won't be taking up, I'll say, clinical time [to prepare] their food."

Creating a facility like this also increases the need for staff, already an issue for the region which has experienced multiple shortages of hospital workers.

There are currently 15 people working at the hotel, and CISSSO is hoping that number will increase. 

The hotel was also converted for medical use in April.

With files from Radio-Canada's Christian Millette

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