Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital is preparing a strategy to handle an overflow of patients if a second wave of COVID-19 occurs.
Brant is working with hospitals in Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk and Brant County (HNHNBB) to prepare the plan to ensure ongoing stability of the health care system throughout the pandemic, particularly during times when there may be a surge in cases of COVID-19.
The hospitals are developing a coordinated approach to caring for COVID-19-positive patients requiring hospital care in the HNHNBB region. The goal of the strategy is to accommodate fluctuations and a potential second wave of COVID-19, that could result in increased demand for COVID-19 care while minimizing any potential disruption of scheduled, regional, and community care across the region.
All hospital emergency departments in the region will support and provide care for persons under investigation for COVID-19. Patients who do not require hospitalization will be discharged and receive follow-up care as determined by their care team.
Patients who test positive and require hospitalization will be cared for at Joseph Brant and three other designated hospitals: Hamilton General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and the St. Catharines site of Niagara Health.
Norfolk General Hospital and Brant Community Healthcare System will continue to provide local COVID-19 care, and may transfer COVID-19 positive patients as needed to designated hospitals.
As part of the strategy, Joseph Brant Hospital’s Pandemic Response Unit (PRU) will be a regional resource to provide care for COVID-19 patients, should the need arise. The Pandemic Response Unit is an external all-season field hospital structure at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington. It is designed specifically to care for stable COVID-19 positive patients who have mild to moderate symptoms and require care and support that cannot be provided at home. For example, they may require oxygen therapy and medication, as well as ongoing monitoring of their symptoms and some personal support.
“Our Pandemic Response Unit was built to prepare for the expected surge of COVID-19 patients. Fortunately, we have been able to successfully treat all COVID-19 cases without the need to expand care to the PRU,” says Eric Vandewall, President and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital. “We know that COVID-19 remains an ongoing threat, and as we move into the next phase of COVID planning, we stand at the ready with a state-of-the-art temporary field hospital structure that will serve as a regional resource to care to COVID-19 patients should the need arise.”
As admitted patients who are transferred to another hospital recover from COVID, they will either be discharged home with community supports as needed, or they will be transferred back to their community hospital for ongoing care as soon as possible. Although some patients may not be cared for in their community hospital, support for virtual visits and engagement of family/caregivers will be provided.
Moving forward, hospital leaders will continue to refine the plan, working with EMS and other partners and in coordination with Ontario Health (West Region).
Joseph Brant’s field hospital is prepared to meet demands if a second wave of COVID-19 occurs.