Planning is underway to decommission the field hospital at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound.
Grey Bruce Health Services president and CEO Gary Sims says directive by the Ministry of Health concerning temporary hospitals is in place until June 30, and he expects the 75-bed site at the Bayshore to come down sometime next month if the positive progress continues in the fight against COVID-19.
"My expectation is that our field hospital will come down before June 30, if all things continue to be good with COVID-19 in wave one," explains Sims. "But, that could be extended by the Ministry at any time."
Sims expects the field hospital will take a week to 10 days to take down. The main components such as walls, beds and medical equipment will be stored and available to re-use at a future date if needed.
"The province is now taking stock of all field hospitals across the province and looking to see which field hospitals, if any, can be re-used through wave two, or re-allocated in the province if needed," Sims says. "And ours was purposefully built for that."
Sims says Grey Bruce Health Services has started planning for how it would re-open services, what the new healthcare landscape would look like, as well as what a second wave of COVID-19 could entail and how the organization would manage it.
"We're doing a lot of planning for it to hopefully continue in a positive trajectory, and that we are getting somewhat back to normal over the next month," he says.
The field hospital at the Bayshore Community Centre is equipped to provide a level of care for medical patients up to, but not as high as intensive care. The 75-bed facility is equipped with bedside oxygen and suction, automated medication dispensing, on-site x-ray and on-site lab testing.
It cost just over $1-million to build, Sims notes. The Grey Bruce Health Services president and CEO says the expectation is the dollars spent on the field hospital will be reimbursed by the Ministry of Health, but they haven't received confirmation yet. Some of associated expenses were sunk costs such as rental equipment and construction services, but other dollars spent were for reusable equipment such as nearly $400,000 in hospital beds.
"That was one of the reasons we thought we should make it reusable, because you don't want to make something for $1-million and throw it away," explains Sims.
The Ontario government mandated the creation of non-traditional hospital sites across the province in late March as the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak was still accelerating. The temporary hospital at the Bayshore Community Centre has been ready since mid-April, but hasn't needed to be put into use.
It is only to be activated to support the local healthcare system if acute and surge capacity at hospitals in Grey Bruce is exceeded, which did not materialize during the peak of the outbreak in April.
The field hospital could also be used to support other areas across the province if needed, Sims told Bayshore Broadcasting last month, if any COVID-19 hotspots were to arise.
Sims says all the preparations Grey Bruce Health Services did in response to COVID-19, including the field hospital, are part of a plan in place to prevent the worst from happening.
"We are one of the few areas in the province, knock on wood, that has not see a death in direct relationship to (COVID-19)," Sims adds. "Was that because we acted quickly? We put all the pieces in place a little bit ahead of the province, ahead of most hospitals. Were we proactive enough? Were we lucky? Or was it a combination?"
"I think at this point we've been very fortunate, but we've done a lot of hard work," continues Sims. "Sometimes hard work creates good luck. So we keep hoping this continues, but we're not out of it yet."