GlobalMedic sets up tent outside Brampton hospital to help with COVID-19 cases
Tent could serve as temporary emergency department triage area to help hospitals sort patients
Volunteers with a Toronto-based charity have set up a large tent outside Brampton Civic Hospital on Saturday in case the facility needs more space to deal with COVID-19 cases.
The tent, which could serve as a temporary emergency department triage area, would enable the hospital to have what it calls a "cleaner" area for patients who do not have the virus but who need to be screened as they arrive for emergency care.
Inside the tent, which is 18 metres by six metres, the hospital could screen patients who are not infected with the virus separate from those who are infected. Its actual emergency department could deal with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients.
A hospital official, however, said the facility hopes it will not have to use the tent and will be able to manage any surge in cases.
Rahul Singh, executive director of GlobalMedic, a disaster response charity, said on Saturday that the tent is what he calls "critical infrastructure."
"These tents provide hospitals with surge capacity, as many hospitals are being filled with COVID-19 related cases," Singh said.
Singh added that the tent will give more space to hospital staff who are trying to manage the additional burden placed on them by the pandemic.
Singh said the charity has made these tents available to several hospitals if they need them and is committed to making every asset that GlobalMedic has on hand available to respond in Canada.
"With the healthcare system feeling the brunt of the virus, it is paramount for us as responders to deliver the right aid. This includes: getting hospitals critical infrastructure; providing 200,000 bars of soap to vulnerable people; distributing 32,000 hygiene kits and 150,000 kilograms of emergency food to shelters and food banks," Singh said.
"We are fully invested in this fight now."
He said the installation was a community effort and GlobalMedic volunteers, along with Peel Regional Police officers, Brampton firefighters and city public works crews, worked together to set it up.
Charity is expert at setting up field hospital tents
Don Jorgensen, a rapid response team leader with GlobalMedic and a detective sergeant with Peel Regional Police, said the charity's expertise includes the installation of tents that serve as field hospitals.
The charity set up similar tents in the Bahamas six months ago in response to Hurricane Dorian.
"What we have been able to do is offer our experience, which we have gained during natural disasters, closer to home," Jorgensen said.
"We have to do what we can. Our expertise is providing tenting and shelters," he said. "We have the shelters available to us and it's better to have them set up in advance and not need them than to need them and not have them set up," he added.
"This is a bit of a pre-emptive situation. We're not sure how the hospital is going to use the tent. However, it's there at their disposal should it be needed. If they do need the extra space, it's there for them. It's much better to be prepared."
Jorgensen said it has been a community event and representatives from a range of city services in Brampton helped to set up the tent on Saturday morning.
Tent is part of pandemic planning, hospital says
Dr. Oscar Karbi, corporate chief of emergency services at William Osler Health System, which includes Brampton Civic Hospital and Etobicoke General Hospital, said the hospital doesn't need the tent for triage yet, but it wants to be prepared and to have it ready just in case.
The hope is that the hospital will never need it.
"We don't currently need it. And perhaps we won't need it. But it's there just in case," Karbi said. "It's important because we don't know the extent of the pandemic."
Karbi said the fracture clinic at Brampton Civic could be remodelled as a temporary emergency department for non-infected patients or low-risk patients. It is a large area with separate rooms, he said. The actual emergency department would be left for infected patients.
The tent, therefore, would be a clean area for triage for the temporary, emergency department.
"It's not a field hospital. We don't intend to house patients there. It will not have stretchers. Nobody will be spending overnight in the tent. This is strictly a temporary portable triage area," he said.
"We'll break the seal and set it up if we need to."
The hospital is already separating infected and non-infected patients into two streams. Those infected or those suspected of being infected are sent to isolation areas, he said.
The tent, which has no supplies or staff yet, is sitting in a lot near the main emergency entrance. If the tent becomes operational, it would have triage nurses and a physician.
The plan is to have one set up one at Etobicoke General Hospital likely next weekend.