Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) has reached an agreement with St. Clair College, HealthPlex, Chatham Campus to turn the facility into the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Field Hospital for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hospital officials say the agreement provides CKHA with the additional space it needs to accommodate in case there is a surge of patients with COVID-19.
Through a phased-in approach over the next week, CKHA will transform the St. Clair College HealthPlex into an offsite Field Hospital with the capacity to treat up to 40 low acuity patients in the recovery phase of their treatments, which could include patients recovering from the virus, hospital officials stated.
“We are preparing for a potential influx of patients and creating capacity in Chatham-Kent,” stated Lori Marshall, president and CEO at CKHA, in a media release.
“This will help address challenges for hospitals across the province. Our hope is that we do not have to move any patients to our field hospital but we are making these preparations for the possible scenario that we receive an influx locally or if we are required to take additional patients from outside our municipality.”
Local hospitals, with support from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, have already increased capacity within the system, CKHA officials stated.
CKHA has currently grown its capacity at its Chatham site adding an additional 46 beds (four of which are critical care level); this is in combination with “pausing” of elective surgeries, some clinics and non-urgent services and moving patients who can safely receive appropriate care in other settings such as long term care and home and community care, hospital officials say.
“In these challenging days, the usual function of our educational facilities takes a back seat to the health and well-being of our community,” stated Patti France, St. Clair College President, in a press release.
“As it turned out, I suppose it is fitting that we had named this athletic facility the ‘HealthPlex’, because it will certainly assume a medical role now. We are at the disposal of our local healthcare heroes. If there is anything else that St. Clair can provide in terms of facilities, services or expertise, it is there for the asking.”
Hospital officials also announced the temporary appointment of Bob Crawford as the Director, Field Hospital Logistics from now through the end of May.
“Bob is well known in Chatham-Kent as the former Chief, Fire and Paramedic Services,” Marshall said in a media release.
“In addition to this, Bob has extensive experience in Emergency Planning in Canada and internationally. Bob’s skills, knowledge and experience will be critical in the planning and set up of the Field Hospital to serve our community.”
CKHA is a 200 bed community hospital, serving the residents of Chatham and rural Kent including Walpole Island and Delaware First Nations, at its two sites in Chatham and Wallaceburg.