Pandemic response unit at Burlington hospital to begin admitting COVID-19 patients this week

Joseph Brant Hospital’s pandemic response unit will begin accepting its first COVID-19 patients this week, more than eight months after it was built.

The 16,000 square-foot-unit was constructed on the grounds of the Burlington hospital in April to accommodate an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients in the region but has been empty until now.

This week, hospitals in Hamilton, Niagara, and Burlington will begin identifying and working with patients who “have progressed in their care” and could be treated at the unit.

Read more: Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital builds pandemic response unit ahead of expected COVID-19 ‘surge’

“The Pandemic Response Unit was built to care for COVID-19 patients whose condition has stabilized but require support that cannot be provided at home, such as oxygen therapy and medication, as well as ongoing monitoring of their symptoms and some personal support,” said Dr. Ian Preyra, Joseph Brant’s chief of staff, in a news release on Monday.

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The goal is to meet the rising demand for COVID patients during the second wave while minimizing the impact on regular care in local hospitals.

Rob MacIsaac, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, said the unit is crucial in minimizing the impact of the rise in COVID-19 cases on regular care at local hospitals.

“Our healthcare system is being stretched to its limits,” MacIsaac said in the release. “Opening the Pandemic Response Unit is a necessary step in our continued efforts to preserve critical hospital capacity for the sickest patients.”

Read more: COVID-19 outbreak at Joseph Brant Hospital spreads, 2 patients die

The unit will be staffed by physicians, nurses, patient care assistants, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, home and community care coordinators, and others, and contains a filtered, negative pressure ventilation system that allows for treatments that may generate aerosols to be safely performed.

Patients will be transferred to the unit from four hospitals in the region that are currently providing acute COVID-19 care, including Joseph Brant, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Hamilton General Hospital, and Niagara Health.

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