For the first time in its history, Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre will see a self-contained, mobile facility built on one of its parking lots amid concerns about a potential third wave of the pandemic and a surge of coronavirus cases.
“At first glance, these appear to be tents (but) they are very sophisticated in nature,” Robert Burgess, Sunnybrook’s senior director of patient flow, emergency preparedness and pre-hospital medicine, told Global News outside of the Bayview Avenue-area site on Wednesday.
Hospital staff began preparing the site, located on the northern side of the property, in February in concert with the upper levels of government.
The tents can accommodate up to 100 patients if there’s a crunch, but the network of structures is being configured to house 84 people.
Each of the tents, which typically hold between eight and 10 people, will be outfitted with medical support systems and bathrooms.
As for who will be in the field unit, that’s still being determined and it isn’t exclusively for people with COVID-19. Officials said it’s looking like less severe patients will be housed in the unit, leaving critical care beds in the hospital open for patients.
Burgess said the mobile unit wasn’t built specifically for a potential third wave, but called it “one of the tools in the toolbox.”
“What it says to me is we’re focused on proper preparedness. We’re ready for anything that might come our way,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ontario government continues to move forward with its vaccination plan in an effort to combat the virus.
Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday that vaccine shipments to the province are now increasing after months of sluggish supply, allowing the immunization effort to ramp up.
Pharmacies and physicians in select regions will be administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to patients between the ages of 60 and 64 in the coming weeks.
A provincewide vaccine booking system, consisting of an online portal and phone line, is set to go live on Monday. Residents aged 80 and older, as well as certain health-care workers and other priority groups, will be able to schedule their appointments through that system.
Ontario reported 1,316 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 16 more deaths linked to the virus.
The provincial government reported 294,018 Ontario residents to have recovered from COVID-19, which is 94 per cent of known cases. Resolved cases increased by 1,212 from Tuesday.
There are 11,311 active COVID-19 cases in Ontario — up from 11,223 on Tuesday and up from March 3’s total of 10,397. At the peak of the coronavirus surge in January, active cases were more than 30,000.
— With files from Gabby Rodrigues and The Canadian Press