Hospital staff set up Vancouver Convention Centre in case COVID-19 worsens

Vancouver Coastal Health and the Red Cross are setting up parts of the city’s main convention centre as a mobile medical unit in case of a rapid increase in COVID-19 patients.

Crews are installing 271 beds in three of the exhibit halls in the centre’s west building to help free up critical care space in hospitals.

READ MORE: B.C. ‘cautiously optimistic’ about COVID-19 forecast, but warns hospitals could still be overwhelmed

It will be an alternate site for patients who have less acute needs and do not have COVID-19, such as those who need IVs, in-patient medications, blood tests, etc.

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“We expect the site to be operational and ready to receive patients by April the 8th if required,” said Dr. Ross Brown, director of the COVID-19 Regional Emergency Operations Centre.

“Our hope is that we do not see the worst case scenario in B.C. However, if we do, we want to reassure the public that we are prepared.”

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The Red Cross contributed 100 of the beds, as well as ward kits and other medical equipment.

B.C. woman’s firsthand account of COVID-19

B.C. woman’s firsthand account of COVID-19

A medical director will oversee the transfer of patients to and from the convention centre.

The mobile unit will not be open the public, so friends and family members will not be able to visit.

Last week, B.C. health officials released modelling data that showed what could happen under different virus transmission scenarios, as part of health-care planning efforts.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she is “cautiously optimistic” that social-distancing measures and other public health orders are helping to “level off” the spread, but warned hospitals could still be overwhelmed if the outbreak suddenly gets worse.

READ MORE: Know a B.C. health-care hero? Share your stories and photos

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